Basic Paths: Fangs from the Past (PFRPG) PDF (based on
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In Gafolweed, a village on the borderlands, autumn brought the first chills and a sense of deep concern. The harvest has been meager, and they say that Zafron, a cruel boy who trafficked in witchcraft, has returned from exile to poison the land and unleash a monster on his former fellow citizens. This creature has already slain three young men, the last of which, Halmil, has just been found dead in the forest. As fear makes its way in the hearts of the villagers, a old tale passes from mouth to mouth, a tale that sinks its roots not in the recent history of Gafolweed, but many, many decades before...
Will your fellowship of budding heroes be able to defy the Fangs from the Past?
Want more beginner adventures? Here they are! "Fangs from the Past" is a basic Pathfinder adventure written by the master adventure writer Tito Leati. Written for beginning GMs, it features simplified stat blocks and includes battlemaps for running the fights, handouts, pawns, and plenty of GM tips. (For veteran GMs, there is an appendix to expand the adventure for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game!)
"Fangs from the Past" features:
All-star team: Tito Leati, Tim Hitchcock, and Roberto Pitturru
Beginner adventure for character levels 1-2
Five battlemaps for miniature gaming
Eleven pawns including gnolls, kobolds and the featured villain, the Sturgimate
The brief introduction lays out this product's purpose: it is not just an introductory adventure for four new characters beginning their adventuring careers, it is also designed with the novice GM in mind, replete with hints and tips to aid good gamemastering from the start - the sort of things a more experienced friend might whisper in your ear the first time you try to run a game. It's an admirable intention...
OK, so roll up some characters and let's get going. The introduction to the adventure contains a story commonly told in the village of Galfolweed, the characters being either locals or youngsters who have set out from a nearby town in search of adventure and ended up here in the village tavern. It is a nicely-written tale, suitable to be recounted in the bardic storytelling style - indeed the GM notes suggest that whilst you can mine the story for hints for the characters to pick up in conversation, one of the village elders is renowned for his dramatic recitation of this tale and can easily be persuaded to perform!
Next comes a more detailed background that the GM needs to read and understand, and then the adventure itself begins on a sunny autumn afternoon in the village, with some classic read-aloud text to set the scene. There's a page of background information to provide the GM with more knowledge about the place, more description of what is going on around the characters as they arrive, and people for them to speak with (along with notes on how to run discourse with a whole host of NPCs)... but it is not long before the first event takes place and the characters get swept up in the action.
All this scene-setting is well done, providing even the novice GM for which this work is intended with the resources to make Galfolweed a 'living' village with believeable inhabitants, making the characters feel as if they have arrived in a place that has genuine existance in the alternate reality of the game, rather than being just there to provide a backdrop for their adventures. A lot of effort has gone in to providing well-rounded NPCs who are individuals in their own right.
However, rest assured this is not all interaction and deep character development, there's plenty of action as well as a mystery to solve. Adversary stat blocks are set up to facilitate the use of either the introductory rules in the Beginner Box or the full ruleset, with notes about the extra features to which you have access if you are running with the full rules. There are places to explore, opposition to fight, red herrings to ignore (or get distracted and misled by!), traps to negotiate, treasure to find and more... with an original and quite spectacular Big Bad Guy in the depths of the darkest corners underground to defeat.
There's even that popular but often hard to run effectively feature, a puzzle to solve. Some advice is given on how to make this work, ensuring that character intelligence, rather than that of their players, comes to the fore without making the whole thing either dull, frustrating or a protracted bout of die-rolling.
Included, as well as clear GM maps of important areas, are several battlemaps - well up to 0one's usual high presentation standards - complete with standees of the monsters the characters will have to fight along the way. There are also some good and atmospheric hand-outs.
There's little to fault - the odd clumsy turn of phrase perhaps, one or two words out of place (but not enough to make things unintelligible, they just jar a bit) and perhaps the layout of the handouts could be improved so the borders work better with the cut-lines - but overall this is an excellent adventure particularly for someone just beginning their GMing career - and it's an exciting adventure in its own right however long you've been playing!
This pdf is 47 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page blank inside front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page back cover, leaving 42 pages of content, so let's check this out!
This is an adventure to supplement the beginner's box and thus provides beginner's box-statblocks in the flow of the adventure. Being aimed at novice DMs and players alike, the adventure contains several tricks of the trade like red herrings, advice on how to run villagers etc. and is not too difficult on the PCs. That being said, the adventure does also contain optional additional content in the form of statblocks and advanced tactics and clues if you're willing to run it with the core-rules. Now that's out of the way, I'll have to warn you that this adventure review contains massive
SPOILERS. If you're a player who wants to participate in the adventure, please refrain from reading on.
Still here? Ok, you have been warned! The adventure begins in the tranquil frontier-town of Gafolweed, where, as legend has it, once a sage bested dread creatures, sphinx-manticore hybrids, in a riddle-contest and banished them after plucking a fang from each of the beast's mouths. The sage has long-since perished, but his mythical treasure lies unclaimed and now, one of the loggers has been mortally wounded. After a burial rite and options for the PCs to follow a red herring and socialize with the townsfolk, they are tasked to finding and killing the creature responsible. The events in the city are very much event-driven and focus on getting the PCs involved while rewarding clever thinking by providing minor additional clues. Seargant Ulbent accompanies them to the site of the ambush, where more clues await them. Some basic tracking provides a clue for the PCs where to go next and the sergeant sends them on their way, not without providing a neat full-color handout map of the area, though. If the PCs follow the red herring, they might encounter an interesting giant toad and further clues and remnants of days gone by before venturing into the Cobalt Chasm, a canyon that leads to the sage's now defunct home. On the way there, they'll be attacked not only by gnolls and other dangerous creatures, but also have their first encounter with the flying mythic menace: The creature has grown old and is at death's door, searching in vain for the secret of the longevity of the sage that once bested it.
Worse yet, on the half-way mark through the canyon, a small division of kobolds has taken to mining and blocks the chasm - in order to proceed through the wind-blasted terrain, the PCs will have to best the creatures in their own mini-dungeon. Here' I'd usually complain how these creatures lack interesting traps, but the strategies provided should be enough to challenge novice players and a trap is included, so I'll let that slip. Once the PCs have bested the kobolds and their leader, they can finally access the sage's former home, which turns out to be guarded by calcified, animate kobold-guardians. It is also here that PCs will be challenged by the smart tactics of their primary antagonist, who blasts them with hit-and run tactics and generally some tricky ideas - which is fine. No, really. Just because players are new to the game does not mean they're stupid and so wits go a long way in besting the by now hopefully wounded last of once so deadly sturgimates. If the PCs manage to find two items and solve a complex, but rather easy and logical riddle, they may even unearth the sage's treasure -who was in truth, once a silver dragon who altruistically changed his remains to silver. (And no, he's been altruistic and spent his hoard on behalf of good people - the rewards are plenty, though!) In his possession, the PCs may also identify the fang taken from their adversary and use it to curse the creature, gaining perhaps just the leverage they needed against their powerful foe. I did mention a puzzle, but not how well it is presented - a total of 4 beautiful handouts is devoted to bringing the whole thing to life, making for once brains and not brawns the true climax of this module.
Editing and formatting are good, though not stellar - I did notice several awkward wordings and some missing/incorrect usages of prepositions. Layout adheres to a beautiful 2-column, full color standard and each of the beginner's box-statblocks is headed by a miniature artwork. The full color original art deserves special mentioning for being of the highest tier quality and the same goes for the maps of the two mini-dungeons and the total of 8 pages devoted to full color battle maps. We also get a page of paper-pawns, which is a nice bonus.
Add to that the extensive amount of handouts and we get commendable support for a module. The pdf also features extensive bookmarks for your convenience. Running this adventure should not prove to be a daunting task for anyone, as its basic premise is simple - simple, but well-executed. The non-standard antagonist, the sense of antiquity and its repercussions and interactions with the present and the stellar pieces of artwork combine to create a sense of wonder and a fitting module for novices to our great hobby.
Even if you're an experienced roleplayer, this adventure offers you something via the antagonist and the puzzle to be solved. Which deserves special mention. We need more of these. Players don't always want to bash, almost everyone I know LOVES puzzles and slowly, they have been vanishing from many modules. It's time for a renaissance of brains over brawn and for me, the puzzle with its extensive handouts, is the true star and climax of this scenario. I do have something to complain about, though: the village gets no maps. Add to that the editing glitches, and I can't give this module the full 5 stars. Instead, for novices, I'll settle for a recommendation and 4 stars. Experienced players and DMs should detract a star, as the module per se is rather on the easy/simple side. Seeing the target audience for this, my final verdict will reflect the former.