Pathfinder Adventure Path: Rise of the Runelords Anniversary Edition (PFRPG) (based on
Paizo Publishing, LLC
In the sleepy coastal town of Sandpoint, evil is brewing. An attack by crazed goblins reveals
the shadows of a forgotten past returning to threaten the town—and perhaps all of Varisia.
The Rise of the Runelords Adventure Path begins with this goblin raid and takes players on
an epic journey through the land of Varisia as they track a cult of serial killers, fight
backwoods ogres, stop an advancing army of stone giants, delve into
ancient dungeons, and finally face off against a wizard-king in his
ancient mountaintop city. This hardcover compilation updates
the fan-favorite campaign to the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game
rules with revised and new content in more than 400 pages
packed with mayhem, excitement, and adventure!
Celebrating both the fifth anniversary of the Pathfinder
Adventure Path and the tenth anniversary of Paizo Publishing, this new
edition expands the original campaign with new options and
refined encounters throughout, incorporating 5 years of
The Rise of the Runelords Anniversary Edition contains:
All six chapters of the original Adventure Path, expanded
and updated for use with the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game.
Articles on the major locations of Rise of the Runelords:
sleepy Sandpoint, the ancient Thassilonian city of
Xin-Shalast, and others.
Revelations on the sinister magic of Thassilon, with
updated spells, magic items, and details on tracking sin
points throughout the campaign.
A bestiary featuring eight monsters updated from the
original Adventure Path, plus an all-new terror.
Dozens of new illustrations, never-before-seen
characters, location maps, and more!
The Rise of the Runelords Anniversary Edition is not part of any subscription.
Q: Will you be doing hardcover compilations of all of your Adventure Paths? A: No. This is a special celebration of our very first Adventure Path on its 5th Anniversary. Several of the original volumes of Rise of the Runelords have been unavailable in print for a long time, yet it remains one of our most popular adventure paths; that circumstance presents a unique opportunity for us to expand and update it for use with the Pathfinder RPG, and to apply lessons we've learned about making Adventure Paths over the last half-decade. Our other adventure paths are largely still in print, and many of them were designed for use with the Pathfinder RPG to begin with; we have no plans to recompile them.
Q: Is there anything missing from the original AP volumes? A: Yes—otherwise, this book would be more than 600 pages long! Some of the monsters and other things created for Rise of the Runelords are now part of the official Pathfinder RPG rules, so they're not reprinted here. The original volumes also included monster ecologies, bestiary entries, and other campaign setting material that isn't directly used in the adventure itself; those items are also not present in this collection. The Pathfinder Journal fiction featuring Eando Kline is not presented here either, but it has been compiled—along with the installments from the subsequent two Adventure Paths—as The Compass Stone, now available in ePub form. We have also replaced some of the artwork from the previous edition, and replaced the six individual introductions with one new one.
The first product must be able to capture the market's attention; Rise of the Runelords did that. Now, the six adventure paths are bound together in one volume. I love this, however, I do have two bones to pick; one, some of the articles from the original were extremely helpful, and they are not here. Second, some of the monsters are not detailed, meaning you will require Bestiary 2 and 3. Outside of that...brilliant. Check out my full review: Rise of the Runelords Anniversary Edition
The good stuff has been covered in all the other reviews, so I won't bother with that stuff. I'm a new GM and unfamiliar with the old ROTR so I can't make any comparisons there either.
My only complaint is the amount of outside material you need to run the campaign as it is written. You need the GM guide of course, but you also need all three Bestiary books, a pretty sizable investment. However, only a few creatures are taken out of the second and third books, which really feels like they just slotted them in as an excuse to make people buy the extra books. I know I can just fake it with reasonable replacements from Bestiary 1 if I want, but it rubs me the wrong way.
It's also a good idea, though not strictly necessary, to have the Advanced Players Guide. And, you'll also want the ROTR player's guide, though that can be downloaded for free, so that's okay.
All in all, I bought this expecting an "all-in-one" package but didn't exactly get it. I'm still very pleased with the book, but wish it didn't require quite so much extra stuff to use.
So this was a birthday gift and really the "Gift that keeps on giving." We are only on the second chapter but I can not say enough great things about this.
The layout is fantastic and easy to read. The artwork is wonderful. The NPCs greatly detailed. And the easy to read - but complex - nature of several of the strategies of the antagonist allow for a varied and sometimes hard to predict resolution.
My only complaint is this - so much effort was clearly put in to the creation of these wonderful PC handout. While I didn't pay for this myself, as it was a gift, it would be great if those that paid the extra money to have a physical copy were rewarded with a PDF of the Handouts.
Maybe one exist - and if there is - this baby goes to 5 stars. But that is my only complaint, that my players do not get to enjoy the fantastic art and handouts that I do, and they need to settle for my shoddy imitations.
To start off with, I have to say that this is an absolutely gorgeous book. I mean that both in terms of its physical appearance and its contents. Every page is like a work of art, from the background colouring which gives it a parchment-like look to the sihedron star underlaid with each page number. The top right corner of every right-hand page contains a tab indicating which section of the book you’re in while the left margin of every left-hand page contains identifying artwork from the original cover of the particular instalment. If there’s any problem with the layout, it’s that it looks so good that it makes you want to flip through the book to just look at it and ignore the writing! Of particular note are the maps. While they’re mostly the same maps as before, they’ve been relabelled and are much clearer as a result. I particularly like that stairs now indicate which way is up and which is down. Most of the time, this is pretty obvious, but there have been times in the past when I’ve been unsure which way stairs are going in some Paizo maps. It’s good that it’s clear just in case of any doubt. Also, full stat blocks and abbreviated stat blocks have a new way of showing XP, CR, and HP. It’s a small change, but it makes them stand out just a little more, thus making them just a little clearer. However, as I said, there’s more that’s beautiful about this book than just its layout. A lot of work clearly went into it and it shows.
So first, all the usual disclaimers. "Rise" is a classic.
It joins the pantheon of truly great adventures in the storied history of "D&D," ranking with Gygax's giant-drow saga.
It redefined the genre, for the better, and despite some brilliant Adventure Paths since, still contains some of the best writing and freshest ideas that Paizo's team has cooked up.
So why only three stars? Two words: Missed opportunity.
The knock on Runelords from the start -- a legitimate one, in my opinion -- is that there wasn't enough foreshadowing.
Nor was there enough opportunity to interact with the incredibly rich, complex NPCs created by Paizo's authors.
The DM knows from reading the printed backstory just how complex and interesting are figures like Nualia, Tsuto, Ironbriar, and the Scribble.
Yet the sad truth is that, as written, these NPCs appear on stage in the adventure only just in time to be killed -- dungeon crawl fodder dressed up in fancy verbiage.
There are exceptions of course. Aldern Foxglove enjoys his own mini-arc. Father Zanthus has a chance to grow in meaning.
But there's not enough of this.
And the issuance of the Anniversary Edition offered Paizo a chance to remedy the spotty flow of plot and character development.
This wouldn't be that difficult a retrofit.
Ironbriar could make a sinister cameo appearance in the early going. It could be made clear that Nualia should do her best to survive, to take a more prominent role in subsequent chapters.
Conna the Wise, given some kind of cameo or bit role earlier, would have much more resonance.
It would also have been relatively easy to thread together larger themes of the story.
Why not make the mysterious ranger Shalelu Andosana a member of the Black Arrows?
This would have given her a clear role later in the story and made the plight at Fort Rannick far more tension-filled.
There should also be some sort of foreshadowing -- through dreams? through the ravings of captured enemy NPCs? -- of arch-enemies that appear later in the story: the Scribbler, Karzoug, Xin-Shalast itself.
As written, the Adventure Path still acknowledges that there is "relatively little involving the metaplot" of ROTRL in the entire first chapter.
But this needn't have been so.
Why aren't the goblins marked or tattooed with Sihedron runes -- as victims are who visit the Paradise barge later in the story?
Why not lay in clues and hints from the very start, so that the seeds of dread are planted at once?
I know -- I know. All these things are DMable, fixable, improvable.
And the adventure works just fine (better than fine...) as written, as a series of cool, weird, deadly encounters that only slowly builds a sense of narrative momentum.
Some would argue that this is exactly the point, using Sandpoint as a kind of "sandbox" at first, and only later introducing the real seeds of an active "quest" or "campaign."
But in my view, iit would be that much better if there were really memorable arch-villains and bit characters that built relationships and rivalries with the PCs, helping grow excitement through the early sessions.
How about an encounter with one of the Graul clan in the slums of Magnimar?
Couldn't that awful flesh golem be an awakened, re-animated off-spring of Mammy?
Imagine that creature, in its dying breath, saying, "My kin don't forget. Mammy'll find you. Mammy'll git you!"
A solidly written monster bash becomes really creepy, really foreboding. And Mammy herself begins to loom early on the horizon.
Even if Paizo didn't want to rewrite all this, it would have made sense to include a "Behind the Curtain" section pointing out possible ways to enhance the story. Something like this:
"We wrote this episodically, and it wasn't possible to stitch it all together seamlessly. But now that we can look at it as a whole, here are some ideas for giving bigger flow and punch to the various elements, ways that might spark curiosity, fear and a sense that the PCs face clever, persistent adversaries..."
So enough. I'll end where I began.
I think it's fair and reasonable to hold Paizo's stuff to the highest narrative standards. Thus my stingy stars.
But this is great storytelling, as written. I've run most of the Adventure Path already once, and plan to run it again now. Once again, thanks to the folks at Paizo for all the fun