Pathfinder Adventure Path #65: Into the Nightmare Rift (Shattered Star 5 of 6) (based on
Paizo Publishing, LLC
Chapter 5: "Into the Nightmare Rift"
by Richard Pett
With five shards of the Shattered Star secure, visions point the PCs toward one of Varisia’s most remote corners as the site protecting the sixth fragment of the powerful artifact. Yet the heroes are not the first to search for this shard—upon arriving at the ancient ruin known as Guiltspur, they find a small army of giants excavating the site on the order of a blue dragon. Even this is not the entirety of the danger, however, for as the heroes soon learn, there are other forces searching for the final shards as well—some hailing from the Darklands below, and some from beyond reality in the nightmare realm of Leng!
This volume of Pathfinder Adventure Path continues the Shattered Star Adventure Path and includes:
"Into the Nightmare Rift," a Pathfinder RPG adventure for 13th-level characters, by Richard Pett.
Previously unknown secrets about H. P. Lovecraft’s famous Plateau of Leng in a special gazetteer of this strange realm of dreams and horrors, by Greg A. Vaughan.
The lost and ancient secrets behind the forgotten faith of Lissala, goddess of runes, fate, duty, and obedience, by Sean K Reynolds.
Alchemists and wererats in the Pathfinder’s Journal, by Bill Ward.
Four new monsters, including Lovecraftian horrors and Lissala’s herald, by James Jacobs and Sean K Reynolds.
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.
I feel like Shattered Star is starting to suffer some dungeon fatigue, but the installments keep on chugging with interesting new dungeons. This one in particular definitely hits some Lovecraftian high points.
It also has some interesting set pieces and allies.
I'd like to take a second to point out the development of dragons wearing their hordes (and actually having their magical items in their art). I think this is one of the best developments in dragons for a long time.
Also, the gazetteer of Leng and details on Lissala are worth it alone.
Overall: A really neat adventure that suffers a little because it's the fifth dungeon crawl in a series of dungeon crawls.
In the fine tradition of Shattered Star, this is an awesome dungeon crawl. Only reason I dropped a star off of my rating here is that it is relativley short on anything other than stright up crawling through a series of cool, room by room encounters. It certainly has the right feel for a high level dungeon crawl- everything from the location to the atmosphere to the sotry feels sufficently epic. Unlike some other chapter in the shattered star AP which I felt were rather standard in their difficulty level, this one is going to TOUGH in the PCs with some of the hardest encounters in the campaing so far.
Great dungeon, I'm sure it will be a hackload of fun to play through, but it lacks that "something special" to elevate it. For example, "Curse of the Lady's Light" (Shattered Star #2) had tons of roleplay potential and the entire dungeon felt alive, belivable and magical, and the inclusion of Grey Maidens was handled very well. "The Doomsday Door", the previous adventure in this AP, had a memorable villain that the PCs learned about during the adventure and that provided a very satisfying finale to the dungeon. Here, there's just one cool room after another.
I must confess that I haven’t actually read much Lovecraft (my geek cred just went way down, I suppose). However, I have learned about many of the concepts through other sources and I find them endlessly fascinating. So it’s perhaps a bit strange that Into the Nightmare Rift doesn’t quite do it for me. It’s a competent dungeon crawl, but therein lies some of the problem, I think. A dungeon crawl doesn’t feel the right style to do such a nightmarish reality justice. Going from room to room, killing monster after monster (which is what a great deal of this adventure is) doesn’t really allow for a building of dread and suspense, which I feel is really needed (especially for something with the word nightmare in the title).
That said, I should stress that I don’t consider this a bad adventure. My problems with it mostly come down to personal taste. In this respect, it’s similar to Shards of Sin, the first part of Shattered Star, in that it’s a competent, well-designed dungeon that just doesn’t grab my attention all that much. Nonetheless, it’s an adventure that probably many people are going to love because it will grab their attention.