Pathfinder Adventure Path #57: Tempest Rising (Skull & Shackles 3 of 6) (PFRPG) (based on
Paizo Publishing, LLC
Chapter 3: "Tempest Rising"
by Matthew Goodall
The time has come for the heroes to take their places as true pirate lords. But doing so will require more than a ship, a scallywag crew, and a hold full of plunder—they’ll need to win the esteem of the Hurricane King himself. If they succeed, they’ll earn the right to claim even greater glory by participating in the Free Captains’ Regatta, a grueling race along the fringes of the mighty hurricane called the Eye of Abendego. The winners receive a fat prize purse, their own private island, and a seat on the Pirate Council of the Shackles. Will the adventurers triumph against fierce competitors, old rivals, and the treacherous winds and currents of the Eye? Or will their ship be claimed by the storm, a doom that’s befallen so many before them?
This volume of Pathfinder Adventure Path includes:
“Tempest Rising,” a Pathfinder RPG adventure for 7th-level characters, by Matthew Goodall.
Details on the infamous pirate lords of the Shackles and new rules for storms at sea,
by Tork Shaw.
A gazetteer of the infamous pirate city of Port Peril, by Liz Courts.
Ghosts and cylcopes in the Pathfinder’s Journal, by Robin D. Laws.
Five new monsters, by Jesse Benner, Ryan Costello, Philip Minchin, 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.
This adventure is pretty fun for my players right now, but the hodge-podge of clues and intrigue points starts to make running the adventure somewhat tedious.
I propose that Paizo include one page in each adventure path that details all of the plot progression points in a flow chart, or plot circle fashion so the GM can easily track the plot and can navigate the adventure without having to jump around in the book randomly to try set up his/her own plot flow chart.
I think this simple inclusion would make Tempest rising and other adventure paths more exciting to run and less tedious for GMs
[update 2/7/2013] The players finished this AP. The beginning portion of the AP was basically skipped over due to the fact that the contests and the whole setup felt somewhat contrived with a nobody orc insinuating himself into the pirate's lives. The second part of the AP was the most difficult as it was a large intrigue involving many NPC's and locales. I purchased the Isles of the Shackles supplement to augment the locales with hopefully some visuals (maps of the ports of call) but was disappointed that it didn't contain island maps I needed to make the locales come to life.
The AP picked up noticeably towards the end with the regatta, and the players were noticeably more excited to get involved in a seafaring adventure at the end of the AP. The way scoring was done worked well and the introduction of the PC's nemesis gave them some motivation.
Overall, I would have liked to have seen the locales fleshed out more. The inner sea world guide is replete with maps of each locale in the book and the middle part of the adventure would have been better served by having some visual aides.
An Excellent First AP Instalment for Matthew Goodall
The writing in this instalment of the Skull & Shackles AP was noticeably different, and in this case at least, the change was definitely for the better. After reading many of these AP instalments, we get used to certain writing styles and adventure approaches, and it was a nice breath of fresh air to read an adventure by a new writer; notably an RPG Superstar winner.
Almost everything in this adventure works very well, from the pirate-y competition that endorses lying and cheating to prove your worthiness to encounter the Hurricane King, followed by an investigation into the sudden deaths of a Chelaxian spy ring featuring some very neat intrigue/mystery encounters, and capping it all off with a race through the edge of a hurricane and a nautical showdown with the villain introduced back in the first issue; all pretty exciting stuff!
A few minor quibbles with this issue; firstly, while I particularly enjoyed the majority of the investigation segment, I felt like there was a bit too much symmetry in the two potential leads as they both ask you to effectively 'go here, do that thing, and come back for the next bit,' which irked me a bit, but the parts involving interrogation and the assassination attempt encounter were so well done I couldn't fault the segment as a whole. The support article listing pirate lord NPCs felt like it was spread a bit thin; perhaps 16 NPCs was a few too many to offer interesting and useful ideas for a GM.
Taken together, though, the minor problems I have do not come close to tipping the scale compared to all the fun events in this adventure; I'll be looking forward to more by Matthew Goodall, that's for sure.