Pathfinder Adventure Path #127: Crownfall (War for the Crown 1 of 6)

****½ (based on 9 ratings)
Pathfinder Adventure Path #127: Crownfall (War for the Crown 1 of 6)

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Everyone Loves a Party

As Taldor's entire capital city gathers to celebrate, few realize that conspiracy and royal rivalries are about to shake the empire to its core! When a high-minded cabal of senators and nobles tries to steer the nation away from disaster, Emperor Stavian III orders a bloodbath in the senate halls, trapping neophyte spies inside layer upon layer of magical security. As tensions rise and the emperor falls, can the heroes escape the forgotten halls beneath the senate and save the heir to Taldor from an assassin's blade? And even then, can anyone prevent a civil war that will tear one of the Inner Sea's oldest nations apart at its rotting seams?

This volume of Pathfinder Adventure Path launches the War for the Crown Adventure Path and includes:

  • "Crownfall," a Pathfinder adventure for 1st-level characters, by Thurston Hillman.
  • A gazetteer of Oppara, crown jewel of Taldor and center of Inner Sea culture, by Eleanor Ferron.
  • A closer look at some of the primary movers and shakers within the Taldan senate, who make for ideal allies, patrons, or rivals to politically minded players, by Thurston Hillman.
  • A collection of some of Taldor's most exotic and unusual threats, from the unsettlingly doll-like fantionette to the freewheeling onyvolan, by Thurston Hillman and Adrian Ng.

IBSN-13: 978-1-64078-015-6

Note: This product is part of the Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscription.

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****½ (based on 9 ratings)

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One of the Strongest Starts to an AP

*****

Paizo ate my previous review, so I'll just give the Cliff Notes version:

This is an astounding AP. The new social influence rules are fun and will serve a group well whether they want to roleplay or roll-play. The combats are interesting, the adventure is generous with magic items, and it has what I consider (and my players would likely agree) the best plot hook and twist of any AP.

If you have a group that doesn't particularly enjoy intrigue or social encounters, or have a group of "murder-hobos", you may wish to skip this AP. For everyone else, I would consider this a must-play.


One of the best intros ever

*****

I have received legal advice (from Poland no less) that I should post a review, so here it is (note I haven’t yet run this, it is based purely on reading it):

This instalment has immediately become one of my top modules of all time. As all first instalments of an AP, it serves two purposes – first it introduces the next epic adventure path and second it is an adventure in its own right. As far as the first goes, it is terrific. It makes it clear that the players in this AP will be agents of a political leader/faction and not vying for the throne themselves. It also demonstrates that combat will take a less important role in this AP than many others. Finally, it embeds the story in the Empire of Taldor – there are hints of the vast history of the nation and how that will tie-in later, plus introductions to many of the political factions at work in the Empire during this adventure path.

As an adventure in its own right, I think it is exquisitely crafted. First thing to note is that it is definitely an intrigue/roleplay scenario over a combat-focussed scenario. The first several encounters have incidental combat opportunities at best – rather there is a whole bunch of investigation/research and diplomacy opportunities. When things DO get ‘tactical’ even the dungeon featuring the first few bad guys begins with an intricate puzzle spread over a few rooms before there’s any opportunity to kill things and take their stuff (although those opportunities come up later).

The factions are interesting, the initial patron (likely to continue in that role for the campaign, by the looks) is engaging, likable and has a deep background. She is portrayed as ambitious plus competent and yet still sympathetic. There is a good reason for her involving the PCs (often a matter requiring suspension of disbelief in Aps).

My biggest pleasant surprise of this module is that despite being heavily roleplay focussed in the early stages, I feel like I would be able to run it with anyone – whether they were comfortable acting it out or if they preferred to roll dice and consult DCs. As such, I think it would be a good intrigue/diplomacy adventure for a group lacking confidence in that regard (assuming they wanted to stretch their legs somewhat).

My only criticism is that it takes a long time before the PCs get to really flex their combat muscles. At least for my group, they LOVE getting into combats early so they can see how they gel as a group tactically and can try out whatever tactic/approach they’ve decided to pursue with their new, shiny characters. I think I would definitely run the PCs through a ‘meet the team’ adventure first – complete with lots of stealth/combat/etcetera. That would be easily motivated as a ‘testing ground’ for the patron before she entrusts them with the missions in this module. My worry is that, without that introduction, they’ll spend the whole first half (which is supposed to be subtle investigation/diplomacy) sabotaging the plot by getting into fights they really shouldn’t be starting.

As ever – that’s the kind of thing that depends heavily on your group’s idiosyncracies.

If you’re looking for an intrigue/political macinations module, I can’t think of a better one (in any system or any decade from the 70s through to now). There’s some work on the part of the DM, of course, but that’s the nature of the beast when adventures step outside the ‘usual’ fare of kicking in doors and killing clearly identified baddies.

It’s a thoroughly excellent adventure – hats off to everyone who worked on it!


TALDOGIS

*****

Excellent kick off an AP that is supposed to be about PCs helping drag an outdated male-dominated archaic dumpster hole that Taldor became into better times.

Also, Taldogis.

Also, angry conservatives.

What's not to love?


Unfortunate Language

***( )( )

Despite any good this book may hold, it is all predicated on "striking down primogeniture" such that a female may inherit. This is absolute popycock, primogeniture is the practice of the first-born inheriting and has nothing to do with male or female inheritance. This language gaff (which could've been fixed with the simplest of google searches; the word they were looking for is "agnatic") is only a sad indicator of consistent and recurring issues with the story & NPCs. More often than not important details are left to the DM to fill in on the fly, a trend woefully extended from several adventure paths hence. Couple this with a dearth of useful new mechanics & transferable content (of the monsters included, maybe one is useful outside of the book), this book is not worth the sticker price.


a bad first impression...adventures need not apply

**( )( )( )

sad to say but but i am sorely disappointed with this AP

ill try to keep it breif

pros

- Oppara Gazetteer - an introduction to the city with maps, notable locations and NPC's for use in the campaign and in your own games

- attempt at creating a interaction focused adventure to encourage new party dynamics and storys

- attempt at political based game, much akin to fantasy dramas like GOT and the like

cons

- role-playing is hampered by the new "influence system", heavily relying on dice rolls for interaction for more than half the book

- story progression from role-playing to dungeon is jarring and feels disconnected from the plot

- under developed and two dimensional NPC's, including a focus on one of the main NPC's who's background conflicts with itself and can be described as haveing the personality of a lump of wet paper

- the book relys heavily on "but thou must"and railroading is common

- chapters require heavy improvisation and GM re writes to make coherent

- dungeons and puzzels feel out of place and esoteric, a problem the creators must have known about as they include a side bar about skipping it.

while you can find enjoyment in the book, it will require heavy GM rewrites for plot, and NPC's, especially the main NPC which the whole plot revolves around

disappointing and hopefully not the start of a trend


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Silver Crusade

That cover is not finalized is it? I can see old art from the Taldor companion book...


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Correct, that isn't the final cover.


2 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

All I know is that the Red Raven better darn well be one of the iconics for this one! :P

Silver Crusade

Nate Z wrote:
All I know is that the Red Raven better darn well be one of the iconics for this one! :P

I hear they plan to go with the shifter and it's upcoming "political animal" form of the Major! [resumes ducking stance... :P]


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Modules, Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Will the events of Tomb of the Iron Medusa have any effect on this AP?


Nate Z wrote:
All I know is that the Red Raven better darn well be one of the iconics for this one! :P

I guess is that the Red Raven, Alain, Kess, and Lem will be in this one.


The phrase "players drag a once-grand nation kicking and screaming into the modern day" kinda worries me. I really hope it doesn't have too many modern day political influences. Really kills the immersion when people bring that stuff into the game. But hopefully it just turns out to be What Jade Reagent should have been and have alternate routes for those that don't necessarily want to be the new monarchs Lapdogs.

Silver Crusade

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Society Roleplaying Guild, Tales Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber

Modern day Golarion, not Earth, we're not gonna be getting smartphones and hotrods in Pathfinder.

Yet.


Rysky wrote:

Modern day Golarion, not Earth, we're not gonna be getting smartphones and hotrods in Pathfinder.

Yet.

Lol of course I just meant id be annoying to have today's political climate influence the campaign. I just think that kinda stuff should probably be kept out of an Adventure Path. And that 'kicking and screaming into the modern day" kinda sets off a red flag.

Although now I want HotRods to be introduced lol.

Silver Crusade

3 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Society Roleplaying Guild, Tales Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber

*shrugs*

Today's political climate is going to influence the campaign for the simple fact that the writers happen to be living in said political climate.

RPG Superstar 2014 Top 16, RPG Superstar 2012 Top 16

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Jam412 wrote:
Will the events of Tomb of the Iron Medusa have any effect on this AP?

Spoiler:

Yes, per the AP panel at PaizoCon.

Silver Crusade

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Rysky wrote:

Modern day Golarion, not Earth, we're not gonna be getting smartphones and hotrods in Pathfinder.

Yet.

Hotrods? OK, Grandma Rysky. ;)

Silver Crusade

3 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Society Roleplaying Guild, Tales Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber
Dean HS Jones wrote:
Rysky wrote:

Modern day Golarion, not Earth, we're not gonna be getting smartphones and hotrods in Pathfinder.

Yet.

Hotrods? OK, Grandma Rysky. ;)

Vroom vroom m@+#&@#~%%~%s.

Silver Crusade

3 people marked this as a favorite.
Rysky wrote:
Dean HS Jones wrote:
Rysky wrote:

Modern day Golarion, not Earth, we're not gonna be getting smartphones and hotrods in Pathfinder.

Yet.

Hotrods? OK, Grandma Rysky. ;)
Vroom vroom m$@#!#&!$%$!s.

Spoiler:
Yep, it probably has a spoiler, it's a hotrod

This looks potentially interesting, though I too want to know if it will be using a bunch of weird subsystems.

If one could order an AP sub to start with the next AP I would be considering it right now. I wish they would do that because I can't see any benefit to starting on part 5 or 6 of an AP.

Silver Crusade

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Society Roleplaying Guild, Tales Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber

You should be able to start a subscription starting with this one some time in January, so not much longer :3

Liberty's Edge

Rysky wrote:

Modern day Golarion, not Earth, we're not gonna be getting smartphones and hotrods in Pathfinder.

Yet.

"Lets make Taldor great again ok" JK

I am making it more of a old Spain Taldor and can not wait to start with first book.


2 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Count de Monet: "It is said that the people are revolting."

King Louis XVI: "You said it! They stink on ice!"


3 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Looks like we've got updated cover art on this! And it looks like Hagrid let some of those "Book of Monsters" get away. LOL!

Silver Crusade

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Sweet cover!

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

AND THIS IS WHY ARCANE AND ROYAL LIBRARIES SHOULD BE NOT TREATED AS A TRIVIAL AFFAIRS. if the players want to get some new spells, or special scolls of secret knowledge, THEY MIGHT NEED TO FIGHT OF OVERLY AGGRESSIVE PAPERBACKS, SCROLLS TRYING TO THROTTLE YOU AND (potentially) THE MORE POWEREFUL SPELLBOOKS OF ANCIENT LICHS OR DARK WIZARDS TRYING TO COME BACK TO LIFE OR JUST DICK SOMEBODY OVER WITH EXPLOSIVE RUNES, SIGILS OR ENTRAPPED DEMON POSSESSION.

Thats not counting the potential traps and wards probably arrayed around the place. the regular libraries, it might take time to locate what your after(if its even there). the more powerful libraries, oh the knowledge is there. you just might have to fight for it first.


Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Monstrous books, I like that.


Cavalier, Rogue, and Investigator, who’s the fourth iconic?


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

It's the Monster Book of Monsters!

Silver Crusade

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Amazing cover that screams HERE'S JOHNNY!!!

Edit: what's going on with that double pipe tho? :P

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Tis a groovy pipe, fit for an emperor. Though I don't think what he is smoking is very calming.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber

The revenge of the Monster Book of Monsters.

Dark Archive

4 people marked this as a favorite.
Milozilla wrote:
The phrase "players drag a once-grand nation kicking and screaming into the modern day" kinda worries me. I really hope it doesn't have too many modern day political influences. Really kills the immersion when people bring that stuff into the game. But hopefully it just turns out to be What Jade Reagent should have been and have alternate routes for those that don't necessarily want to be the new monarchs Lapdogs.

Modern day in Avistan apparently means hereditary monarchies where no monarchs are married or have any legitimate (or even known) children. I'm serious; every monarch in the Inner Sea is single and has no known children, except for Stavian, which is kind of immersion breaking for me because of how dangerous that is for such a type of government. There was a reason Henry VIII went through six wives and it wasn't just a wandering eye.

On a more serious note, I will probably keep my subscription up for this AP for the non-adventure articles & monsters. I will likely never run it though because so far it seems like it will require an extensive re-write to scrub out the Whig history.


Right now, we need more book monsters.


Paizo Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Legends Subscriber; Pathfinder Tales Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Creon Vizcarra wrote:
On a more serious note, I will probably keep my subscription up for this AP for the non-adventure articles & monsters. I will likely never run it though because so far it seems like it will require an extensive re-write to scrub out the Whig history.

What exactly do you mean by "Whig history", and why do you feel you'd need to scrub it?


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Raynor Cordite wrote:

Amazing cover that screams HERE'S JOHNNY!!!

Edit: what's going on with that double pipe tho? :P

LOL! I just noticed that. Ole Stavian needs to learn how to puff, puff, pass.


Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I agree, could use more book monsters. Could also use (more) monsters based on clocks, ink, paper, furniture, paint, paintings, weapons, armor, pottery, jewelry, gems, plates, cutlery, etc.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Creon Vizcarra wrote:
I'm serious; every monarch in the Inner Sea is single and has no known children, except for Stavian, which is kind of immersion breaking for me because of how dangerous that is for such a type of government.

This is a very interesting point, I hadn't thought about it before. I can't off-hand recall the other monarchs, but I believe Abrogail of Cheliax and Ruby Prince of Osirion are indeed single with no known children. I'll have to pay more attention to this in the future.


Paizo Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Legends Subscriber; Pathfinder Tales Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

The same seems to be true for King Eodred of Korvosa, Queen Telandia Edasseril of Kyonin, and Queen Galfrey of Mendev. Interesting.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Society Roleplaying Guild, Tales Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber
Zaister wrote:
The same seems to be true for King Eodred of Korvosa, Queen Telandia Edasseril of Kyonin, and Queen Galfrey of Mendev. Interesting.

Uhhh...


Paizo Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Legends Subscriber; Pathfinder Tales Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Rysky wrote:
Uhhh...

You known, default setting assumes no APs have taken place.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Society Roleplaying Guild, Tales Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber
Zaister wrote:
Rysky wrote:
Uhhh...
You known, default setting assumes no APs have taken place.

He and Ileosa have been married for awhile before the AP takes place (ISWG mentions this and even has art of her).


Paizo Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Legends Subscriber; Pathfinder Tales Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Ah you're right. OK so he's not single, but still no offspring.

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

It is plot relevant though. Actually, is he only monarch were lack of heir is presented as something they are worried about?

Liberty's Edge

4 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

It is easier for PCs to marry the monarch this way :-D


Paizo Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Legends Subscriber; Pathfinder Tales Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Good point! :)

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Samy wrote:
Creon Vizcarra wrote:
I'm serious; every monarch in the Inner Sea is single and has no known children, except for Stavian, which is kind of immersion breaking for me because of how dangerous that is for such a type of government.
This is a very interesting point, I hadn't thought about it before. I can't off-hand recall the other monarchs, but I believe Abrogail of Cheliax and Ruby Prince of Osirion are indeed single with no known children. I'll have to pay more attention to this in the future.

I am quite certain that the Ruby Prince has children...

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Zaister wrote:
The same seems to be true for King Eodred of Korvosa, Queen Telandia Edasseril of Kyonin, and Queen Galfrey of Mendev. Interesting.

Unless I am misremembering the Elven Queen/King is elected. So heirs are not really a thing there.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

There are story explanations as I remember it for why Queen Galfrey is not pursuing having an heir.

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Samy wrote:
Creon Vizcarra wrote:
I'm serious; every monarch in the Inner Sea is single and has no known children, except for Stavian, which is kind of immersion breaking for me because of how dangerous that is for such a type of government.
This is a very interesting point, I hadn't thought about it before. I can't off-hand recall the other monarchs, but I believe Abrogail of Cheliax and Ruby Prince of Osirion are indeed single with no known children. I'll have to pay more attention to this in the future.

Prince Audard III of Ustalav, too.


Paizo Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Legends Subscriber; Pathfinder Tales Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
graywulfe wrote:
There are story explanations as I remember it for why Queen Galfrey is not pursuing having an heir.

Yeah, she's a regular Sun Orchid Elixir user and about 100 years old. If she'd had any children, they might even be dead already. :)


Pathfinder Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

I do recall reading a couple of medieval romances where a monarch would agree with his nephew or other heir presumptive not to marry and produce an heir with a better claim than the current heir. Maybe one or more of these single heirs made such agreements?

At least in the case of Cheliax, we know that the Thrunes have no fixed line of succession, so having a child does not actually affect the succession in any way. We have yet to see a king or queen from that house die of natural causes anyway.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Osirion, Legacy of Pharaohs makes no mention of Khemet III being even married. The ones next in line are his younger twin half-siblings, Jasilia and Ojan.

Unless it has been changed since Elves of Golarion, Telandia Edasseril is looking for an elf from outside Kyonin without political ties to father an heir. She, however has no intention to marry.


Creon Vizcarra wrote:
Milozilla wrote:
The phrase "players drag a once-grand nation kicking and screaming into the modern day" kinda worries me. I really hope it doesn't have too many modern day political influences. Really kills the immersion when people bring that stuff into the game. But hopefully it just turns out to be What Jade Reagent should have been and have alternate routes for those that don't necessarily want to be the new monarchs Lapdogs.
Modern day in Avistan apparently means hereditary monarchies where no monarchs are married or have any legitimate (or even known) children. I'm serious; every monarch in the Inner Sea is single and has no known children, except for Stavian, which is kind of immersion breaking for me because of how dangerous that is for such a type of government. There was a reason Henry VIII went through six wives and it wasn't just a wandering eye.

Does that logic even still apply in a universe where people can be constantly resurrected from death and have their lifespan lengthened considerably?

Why bother fathering/mothering a bunch of brats to continue the dynasty when I can just live forever as an Immortal God-King/Queen.

Death is poor people after all.

Paizo Employee Franchise Manager

9 people marked this as a favorite.

In most cases, just because someone's spouse and/or offspring isn't mentioned doesn't mean they don't exist, just that their names and ages and whatnot have been canonized yet. Rather than spend 100 words talking about who the king or queen married and how many kids they had, general nation overviews can provide two or three potential plot hooks in the same space. When there's a narrative reason to give a ruler a wife or husband, we'll do so. But in most cases, stable lines of succession make for less adventure than potentially volatile political upheaval.

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