Not too long after we announced the Giantslayer Adventure Path, Wes was contacted by a group of maniacs who had plans to run marathon sessions of the Adventure Path and do a full and thorough report. Since I work on the Adventure Paths, I took over coordinating with those hardcore gamers, and I'm happy to be able to present the first of six reports we'll feature here on the blog.
The Giantslayer Endeavor
Pathfinder fans: How far have you taken your devotion to the game? What's the longest session you have ever played? We are Order of the Amber Die, an association of Pathfinder players, and for nearly 3 decades we have been playing marathon sessions of 48 hours, 72—even one 96-er. Last summer, we documented our journey through the The Emerald Spire Superdungeon, which was completed in just 35 days (195 hours). Now we're going for something much bigger. In fact, we're trying to do something so grand that we haven't been able to find documentation for anything this ambitious since the founding of the world's oldest fantasy roleplaying game.
Welcome to The Giantslayer Endeavor!
From March through August, 2015, we are attempting to play all six volumes of the Giantslayer Adventure Path. Each volume will be played in a marathon of roughly 48-72 hours, and maybe we'll throw in another 96-er to close out. Better yet: we're documenting the whole thing as a contribution to the RPG community. We don't know if we will succeed; we don't even know if our lives, careers, and loved ones can handle this.
To add extra challenge over the years, we have evolved our game into what we now call "Xtreme Pathfinder." Playing only published adventures, we use the rules, our GM brings the adventures to life as written, and we try our best to beat what the authors throw at us. Character death is accepted as part of the game, and we don't ask for leniency from Paizo's authors. If Pathfinder could be made into a competitive sport between a party and a module, our game would be it.
Why Giantslayer? It's as courageous of an adventure path as has ever been published. You don't have to be a veteran to understand the nigh-irreproachable aura that surrounds the name Gary Gygax. It takes the heroism of Iomedae herself to even tread near the sacred ground that was G1-2-3, Against the Giants, and yet that's exactly what Paizo has done. We have played through Gygax's series twice in serious form, and from the very first moments of "Battle of Bloodmarch Hill", Paizo has made it clear that this will be no rehash—they will carve their own path through the halls of the big folk.
Highlights from our Experience with "The Battle of Bloodmarch Hill"
The maps were as unique and detailed as we had hoped. We spent an entire Saturday exploring a map that was literally (and figuratively) a sandbox at 9 ft. x 5 ft (with some amazing miniatures painted by Blue Table Painting). During a climactic battle for a barricade played on this depiction of Trunau's inner quarter, Zadim the slayer hurled back an unexploded grenade just in time for it to detonate at the feet of the surprised orc who threw it.
Though we spent nearly half of the marathon roleplaying our way through an intricate investigation (props to the author for opening Giantslayer with a curveball), the rest of the module was packed with tough fights. With TPK looming in a tactically complex encounter, a 4th-level Crowe the bloodrager took on—and took down—two dire wolves by himself to put the other members in position for the win. Clutch.
Author Patrick Renie provided our group with something that despite having more than 140 years of combined experience at the table, we had never been a part of: a tug of war.
At the close of a frenzy that is being called "the 19-rounder," a final orc shield-breaker wielding a shotel stood his ground against Oloch the warpriest. The Amber Die that is our namesake delivered back-to-back 20s, killing Oloch and earning the orc a place beside his lord Nulgreth.
During a special operation to destroy a siege engine, Quinn the investigator found himself grappled by orc bombardiers, forced into a catapult, and then launched 50 ft. in the air—well over the walls of Trunau. A hard landing marked his death as one of our most unforgettable.
The adventure proved difficult, and the party is in rough shape. They had to sell almost everything earned (a significant haul) to bring their slain companions back to life. They are entering "The Hill Giant's Pledge" with two characters that are under-level, and only three possessions of importance. We play a tight game to create intensity, and CRs will not be adjusted down. Luckily, one of these items is an artifact.
Best Quote from Marathon Part 1
Aerick (Oloch): "I slept in the same 5-foot square that I roleplayed for 77 hours."
Be sure to stay on the lookout for the next report from the Giantslayer marathoners!