Pathfinder Adventure Path #113: What Grows Within (Strange Aeons 5 of 6) (PFRPG)

***½( ) (based on 3 ratings)
Pathfinder Adventure Path #113: What Grows Within (Strange Aeons 5 of 6) (PFRPG)
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Death From Below

After finding the route to the lost city of Neruzavin, the adventurers must mount an expedition into the vast and deadly desert region called the Parchlands, where they hope to catch up to their treacherous former employer. Once they brave the heat-blasted wasteland, the heroes arrive in an abandoned city at the edge of a lake where a Great Old One slumbers. The adventurers must track Count Lowls's party, recover a vile tome, activate the city's Star Stelae, and perform a powerful ritual that allows them to follow the insane noble to Carcosa. Along the way, the heroes must be careful they don't wake the slumbering Great Old One or stir up the flying polyps sealed beneath the city!

This volume of Pathfinder Adventure Path continues the Strange Aeons Adventure Path and includes:

  • "What Grows Within," a Pathfinder RPG adventure for 13th-level characters, by John Compton.
  • Examination of the fungal blot that spreads through dreams in an article about the Great Old One Xhamen-Dor, by James Jacobs.
  • An exploration of the blasphemous tome known as the Necronomicon, by James Jacobs.
  • An icy tomb hides a terrible secret in the Pathfinder's Journal, by Arinn Dembo.
  • A bestiary containing a new Great Old One and other hideous monsters, by John Compton, Adam Daigle, and James Jacobs.

ISBN-13: 978-1-60125-913-4

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Product Reviews (3)

Average product rating:

***½( ) (based on 3 ratings)

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I enjoyed it overall

****( )

Good times were had. Could be better, but I have played a whole lot worse.

Wretched and derivative

*( )( )( )( )

In role playing games, railroading is when the players are forced into a specific set of actions regardless of their wishes. This chapter of the adventure path does this in the worst way possible. The plot goes as follows: The big bad has used an evil book to perform a ritual to enter the realm of Hastur, an evil demigod who looks like some guy in a yellow hood. The players must save the day and prove their heroism by....reclaiming the aforementioned evil book and performing the same evil ritual to enter the evil demigod's home realm. Sigh. The book is located in yet another ruined city filled with monsters who sit around waiting to be attacked. Seriously, is it possible to go half a block without stumbling into a ruined city in gaming? In the course of the adventure, the players will be forced to kill no less than two angels who are simply doing their jobs. (Three if you count that guru-angel turned emo). The book explicitly states that it is impossible to avoid killing the angels, without making a deal with a devil and even that only reduces the death toll to one. Not exactly friendly to players who play paladins and clerics.

Making matters worse is the fact that there is no real reason to do any of the adventure. No reason is given for why the players cannot simply use common dimensional travel magic to reach their goal. For that matter, what exactly is the threat that bad guy possesses? The text indicates that he may elevate his patron from demigod to outer god, but it never stated how this to take place and what its significance is. Hastur is already featured as a challenge rating 29 entry in the Beastiary 4 and seems to have no difficulty interacting with the mortal world.

The rest of the book is given over to discussing the evil book, but honestly, Paizo has already gone over similar ground in earlier projects and much more competently. Also, there is an overview of the Great Old One Xamen-Dor, but it is just another evil demigod who uses fungus to create undead. This setting already has about a half dozen bad guys who do the same thing and honestly, it is kitchen mold. How scary can it be? The villain has some other gimmick about becoming more powerful the more people know of it, but this never really plays much a role.

I cannot recall the last time, Paizo has published a turkey like this. Hopefully, it will be the last time this happens



My review is based on a copy where pages 1-16 are missing/replaced by copies of pages 17-32, so i can obviously not consider them in my rating.
I already read that the map of the city on page 14 is missing a scale (it´s supposed to be 400 feet for the scale bar) and that how exactly the characters got through the Parchlands of Casmaron (which don´t get a map) to this place is pretty much handwaved, but the rest (pages 17-96 plus two inside covers) are conclusive enough for me.
As i will give my copy back to the store tomorrow and probably receive a mint one in as early as 2 months time, i write this review before the one for AP#112, which i havn´t read entirely yet.

The inside front cover illustration of the city and inside back cover illu of a flying polyp are very atmospheric.
All of the artwork is very good. Every battle-map but one is easy to draw, yet fun to play on.
The encountered creatures are very diverse and a lot from Bestiary 5 or new ones are included. There is a dark and moody atmosphere permeating the adventure and reading the handout on page 25 actually made me shiver.
A lot of the encountered creatures can be parleyed with (if done rightly), some have to be killed - a perfect mix with plenty of roleplay possibilities.
The challenge rating is just about perfect. A lot of new horrific haunts are in here.
All 5 Bestiary entries are great, especially the Child of Yog-Sothoth template and the Hunting Horror.

The map of "the snarl" on page 31 is not easy to draw and also doesn´t fit on a "Bigger Flip-Mat", something i have come to loathe as a GM.

There are at least 3 different gargantuan creatures encountered in this adventure, yet none of which can be presented by any gargantuan miniature, neither from "Pathfinder Battles" nor "D&D".

This adventure gives me an "H.P. Lovecraft´s The Nameless City" vibe, which is a great accomplishment.
Often book 5 of an AP is so ridiculous overcomplicated to run, that i immedeately decide not to. Not with this one.
So far the "Strange Aeons" AP is one of the rare ones (if not the only one), that doesn´t have a disappointing book in it!

The next continent Pathfinder needs to explore is Casmaron and with the excellent Pathfinder Campaign Setting: Qadira, Jewel of the East, another step in this direction is done (the first being the map of it´s nortmost part "Iobaria" in Pathfinder Adventure Path #33: The Varnhold Vanishing (Kingmaker 3 of 6) - the only part of this AP of which (non-mint) copies are still available.