The slave markets of Katapesh may be an unsavory sort of business, but the trade metropolis’s enigmatic law enforcers have few qualms with the legal act of selling and buying flesh. Other factions, including the abolitionist Eagle Knights of Andoran, have their own opinions on the matter, however, and frequently send undercover agents into dangerous territory to break up slave rings.
When one such Eagle Knight goes missing while investigating an underground slave operation beneath the dilapidated Twilight Gate district, it’s up to the PCs to delve an abandoned (but hardly uninhabited) qanat beneath Katapesh and discover her dire fate. Yet not everything is as it seems in the dank slave caverns under Twilight Gate, and clues hint that the slavers may have even more loathsome connections than initially suspected. Can the PCs recover the missing Eagle Knight before her fate is sealed? Or will the monstrous slavers lairing under Katapesh succeed in their malevolent designs?
"Broken Chains" is an investigatory dungeon crawl adventure for 6th-level characters, written for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game and compatible with the 3.5 edition of the world’s oldest RPG. This volume also contains a fully detailed map and gazetteer of the Garden of Chains—a nefarious slave auction house—and a brand-new demon that can easily be used in any campaign.
Written by Tim Hitchcock.
Pathfinder Modules are 32-page, high-quality, full-color, adventures using the Open Game License to work with both the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game and the standard 3.5 fantasy RPG rules set. This Pathfinder Module includes new monsters, treasure, and a fully detailed bonus location that can be used as part of the adventure or in any other game!
I must say, the very beginning of this module is something I really enjoyed...the interaction with the market and the setting presented were pretty fun to play around with, plus trying to figure out what to do. But as soon as we got passed that (which took us about an hour and a half), the entire module took a nosedive for the worst.
It turns into a sewer dungeon crawl, with uninspiring, repetitive terrain and typical monsters you see in sewers, for really no apparent reason at all. I didn't feel like I was infiltrating something as much as just beating some things down. Then after that, it was cultist after cultist, feeling like it was just fluff to add time fighting the same things over and over again. I have nothing against dungeon crawls, but it gets old quick if there's nothing there to keep it interesting. Then, of course, the person who joins you does the inevitable like every single NPC that ever travels with the PCs. On a side note, I also felt the module was a tad easy and a bit too strenuous on casters with spells per day, but you know how that goes... It just felt like a bunch of cliches, random monster tables pulled from other sewer adventures, typical hidden cultist storyline, and then ending with demons, and they were just slapped together and called a module.
Tim Hitchcock does twisted great, but Broken Chains never really comes together. The premise of infiltrating a nefarious slave market in the exotic City of Bazaars is intriguing, but the module fails to follow up in any coherent way.
There are some nice nods to the supposed setting of Katapesh, but only small gestures like the meager two page appendix on the Garden of Chains, pesh dealers, and a cameo by a black haired gnoll mentioned in Dark Markets. It is really hard to evoke the flavor of the Great Markets of Katapesh however, when nearly all of the module occurs underground. The trap-filled qanat is an innovative locale, but comes to feel too much like just another sewer crawl with the inclusion of otyughs and other oddities.
The final part really loses its way. I did quite enjoy the demonic plots and grotesques that Hitchcock describes, but ultimately the final chapter just feels like a series of unfinished sketches that only devolve into an unsatisfying conclusion.
I am a fan of Tim Hitchcock's work and have been looking forward to this.
I think the hook: 'Rescue the hero!" is fine, and not one I've seen before in a Paizo module.
Starting with a non-violent, mini-sandbox involving a slave auction is cool but not for every group.
The dungeon is full of variety and everyone is someone to interrogate. However, the tunnels do have a bit of an old-school random monster population (otyughs, mimic, black pudding, rust monsters, cockatrice, minotaur) and add to the old-school sense of random lethal-ness by being chock full of traps.
Pesh addicts and Pugwampi add to the katapeshi vibe and everyone loves slaying gnoll slavers.
The slow reveal on the Lamashtan cult is nicely done, clues are smattered and will build up a picture over the adventure. The pace of the reveal depending on how alert players are and how many clues they get with skill checks and the like.
But... this is then spoiled by Othine's reveal: the PC's investigations are only foreshadowing for her reveal.
The cult compound is nicely demonic (you immediatel hit upon quasits, minor demons and krenshars). The morlock and howler, though, again feel like random monsters. The traps, rooms and cultists are excellent (graven guardians, voice of lamashtu) but the mid-way BEG, The Midwife, is a bit of a mess (half-fiend jackalwere oracle, anyone? No, thought not). The obvious alternative would have been a flind, or a gnoll with more levels. Even a half-fiend gnoll would have been more fitting.
The black milk mother is horrendous but is a captive and could have been more intriguingly pitiable. She gives birth to advanced hyenas each month but there are no advanced hyenas on the adventure!
Ukrammak should be a party ally (to destroy the ghost) and then Ukrammak and Uthine should both turn on the party: that would better that leaving a ghost-destroying-kit in Ukrammak's quarters frot he adventurers to find.
My thoughts: not a bad adventure but the random monster selection should have been replaced by more cultists, slavers, gnolls, hyenas, flinds and Yaenit Demons.
There are hints of Hitchcock's talent poking through but this feels awkward and ultimately disatisfying.
This module has an unimaginative plot, unrealistic dungeon ecology, weak motivational hooks, and a shed-load of overly-complicated adversaries (guaranteed to slow combat down to a crawl).
I want rich characters, strong motivations, interesting situations, and a good plot.
In this module the plot hook reads like this: "Some dude you've never met before wants you to rescue a missing agent you don't care about. After a single good Diplomacy roll, you find-out the agent was taken to a sewer that is laden with traps and a vast assortment of seemingly random monsters. After encountering the 'big bad' of the dungeon, you will find the missing agent, but she will try to kill you. Aren't you glad you went through all this trouble?"
Paizo, please give me a good story (not a female half-fiend jakalwere oracle). I waited many months for a new module and all I got was something from a random dungeon generator.
Unfortunately, Broken Chains just didn’t grab my attention very well. It has one or two things I like in it, but overall it’s a mediocre generic adventure that just doesn’t use its setting to any good effect. Indeed, it’s an adventure that could happen just about anywhere with virtually no changes. True, it’s very useful to have adventures that can be placed anywhere gamemasters need them to be, but in that case, why make the default setting a place as colourful and identifiable as Katapesh? A place like Katapesh needs an adventure that really makes use of its unique characteristics. On top of that, Broken Chains is really just a little dull.