Pathfinder Adventure Path #51: The Hungry Storm (Jade Regent 3 of 6) (PFRPG) (based on
Paizo Publishing, LLC
Through Ice and Fire
Chapter 3: "The Hungry Storm"
by Jason Nelson
Though few would call the Crown of the World hospitable, the PCs have no choice but to brave this icy frontier if they are to get Ameiko to Minkai. As they battle their way past the fell beasts that inhabit the arctic wasteland, the heroes must unravel the mystery of the supernatural blizzards that have been plaguing the polar icecap, ultimately confronting the dark and otherworldly force behind the treacherous gales. Will the adventurers survive the terrors of the Crown of the World long enough to remedy the curse that haunts it? Or will they succumb to the icy wastes, as have so many before them?
This volume of Pathfinder Adventure Path includes:
"The Hungry Storm," a Pathfinder RPG adventure for 7th-level characters, by Jason Nelson.
A look at the perils and hazards of the treacherous Crown of the World, by Jason Nelson.
An exploration of Oda’s seedier side in the Pathfinder’s Journal, by Dave Gross.
Four new monsters, by Jesse Benner, Jason Nelson, Patrick Renie, and Tork Shaw.
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.
Going in, this was the portion of the adventure path I was least looking forward to the most. This is my first time GMing and choose not to use caravan encounters in my game made me dread this a bit. That being said, my players thought this was one of the more interesting, and enjoyable adventures so far. At first glance, this is a difficult adventure to run, and for the most part that holds true, but what is presented here is well thought out, and enjoyable. It just seems like it has very little to do with the ultimate goal of this adventure; confronting the Jade Regent. Overall, it was enjoyable, but anyone looking to run this adventure path will need to do a lot of prep work for this installment to make things make sense in your game.
The caravan is traveling across thousands of miles of incredibly hostile environment. This is compounded by the fact that something powerful is exerting control over northern storms. If the players are invested in the caravan NPCs and the importance of their task (to restore Ameiko to the throne) then they will have reason to carefully manage the caravan, but only if the GM is several steps ahead of them.
If you are a GM who isn't interested in the mechanics of caravan organization and combat then scrap the system at this point, if you haven't already, because the enjoyment of your players will suffer without attentive preparation and analysis on your part. The caravan rules come unglued and you must be able to step in and make adjustments to the caravan's power, the foes it faces, or both. Also, give your PCs the opportunity to make an impact during caravan combat. Describe the scene, if they do something useful apply a bonus where appropriate. Roleplay where there would otherwise only be dice rolling. Lastly, let the caravan NPCs fight a weak opponent while the PCs simultaneously confront the more powerful foes of the enemy. Anything you can do to creatively breakup the monotony will make an incalculable difference.
The story itself, while largely detached from the entire narrative, is that way for good reason. If it truly bothers you then find ways of injecting the story that you, and/or your players, want. But if read carefully this installment of the adventure path illuminates a dark and deadly world. A great opportunity to test your players with its savagery and allow them to prove their readiness to meet the challenges ahead.
In every adventure path, there always seems to be at least one volume that doesn’t live up to the quality of the others. For Jade Regent, that volume is The Hungry Storm. It’s a shame because this was one I was particularly looking forward to (I’ve always liked adventures set in the far north and I was particularly eager to see its treatment of the Erutaki, Golarion’s version of the Inuit). There are a lot of good ideas in it, and it’s the first one so far to make heavy use of the caravan, around which the adventure path is supposed to centre. However, those ideas are either not given enough depth or they just don’t string together well. The Hungry Storm is not a bad adventure—I’ve certainly seen far worse ones out there—but it’s not particularly great either. It’s somewhat mediocre overall, and when compared with the two excellent opening volumes, mediocre really stands out. That said, I do believe that in the hands of a competent GM, this adventure can still be a lot of fun for the players, who may not even notice its shortcomings.
So far my groups favorite installment. They had a blast improving their caravan - interacting with locals - the RP opportunities are extensive in this campaign and if not fully utilized can detract from this installment.
About half way through the PCs will incur the wrath of an unorthodox enemy that stalks and hunts them - eventually forcing them into catacombs where they must fight to survive. Groups more focused on hack and slash will probably not like this installment - that is okay because the DM can throw more random encounters in - or cut out some of the caravan sections. For those groups who like more RP - they will (as I said above) eat this adventure up.
This adventure requires a substantial amount of DM prep - but your group will thank you for it, and my thanks goes to Paizo for delivering on an adventure that my players have fallen in love with.
I think that the title of this review describes fairly well this part of the campaign.
The first part consists in a long trip scattered with encounters that have nothing to do each with other.
The second part is a little adventure with some investigation. After that comes another not so long trip through the North Pole with more encounters with no connection with the story (nor each with other). The part ends with an absurd tower where the point is throwing d20s decently to travel from one floor to another. There is an unavoidable combat in each floor. Very interesting...
The third and last part I have not played yet, but it seems to be somewhat better...
By the way. I had to skip the whole first part because in the beginning I decided not to use caravan rules (rules that have the power of converting a tactical combat with spells, feats and careful movements into a boring sequence of dice results).
Probably the worst thing that Paizo has published so far.