Lookout

Charlie Brooks's page

RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 4, RPG Superstar 2015 Top 32. RPG Superstar 6 Season Star Voter. Organized Play Member. 912 posts. 12 reviews. No lists. No wishlists. 1 Organized Play character.



Sign in to create or edit a product review.

Add Print Edition $24.99

Add PDF $17.99

Add Non-Mint $24.99 $18.74

An Epic Finale

4/5

It's hard to write a climactic adventure for levels 18-20 that feel climactic. Broken Promises manages to do that well. The combats are epic, featuring fights against some of the top creatures in the Bestiary, not to mention an end boss that is one of the most imposing villains in the game to date. The social encounters, which can often suffer from mundane inflation of DCs to make them level-appropriate, feel epic because of the environment. The PCs begin this adventure by fighting against Dahak's rage, and continue to by infiltrating the island of Promise and sway the great gold dragon Mengkare to their side.

Combat is challenging and interesting, but it's also quick and fun in play--a huge accomplishment considering how difficult high-level battles in 1st edition got. Skill-based encounters include protecting townsfolk from some truly perilous circumstances and arguing in the court of a dragon regent, among other interesting challenges. The adventure gives a lot of freedom for PCs to take things in whatever order they choose.

Why only four stars, then? My one big complaint about this adventure book is that the handling of one of the major villains is left a bit nebulous. The PCs can just attack her in combat, or they might wind up her unwitting pawns, but there's a whole spectrum of options in between that have little in the way of guidance. This leads to a potentially anticlimactic end to somebody who is effectively the end boss of an entire thread of adventures that have woven through the campaign. I think there might have been a hitch in the transition between Book Five, which set her up as a major foe and potential end boss, and Book Six, which treats her as but one player on a greater stage--and which seems to expect the PCs to buy into her duplicity despite having gathered significant evidence that she might not be what she seems.

This minor hitch doesn't take much away from an excellent adventure and a superb adventure path. Age of Ashes is one of Paizo's better efforts, and it represents a wonderful introduction to Pathfinder's second edition and the world of Golarion as a whole.


Add Print Edition $24.99

Add PDF $17.99

Non-Mint Unavailable

A Smorgasbord of Adventure Options

5/5

As the first adventure path in a new edition, Age of Ashes hits on a lot of familiar Pathfinder themes. However, that doesn't keep it from pushing the envelope and trying new things. If somebody plays Age of Ashes as their first adventure path, they find the full breadth of what Pathfinder offers--lots of exciting combat, but also a wide range of other challenges.

While each book in the adventure path offered up new challenges that showcased the depth of the new rules, Against the Scarlet Triad really presents an adventure with variety. Having tracked down the slavers that have served as the group's enemies for several books, the PCs first have to turn the sprawling city of Katapesh against them. This means more than just swaying some nobles, but luckily the adventurers are high enough level to have many options at their disposal. Through the course of the adventure, the group will find a mix of combat, social interaction, and some very interesting set pieces such as planning and executing a heist.

Those who desire combat first and foremost get their wish at the beginning and especially the end of this module, which features a sprawling dungeon with a variety of challenges.

At the end of Against the Scarlet Triad, the PCs reach a level at which most 1st edition adventure paths end. For experienced players, it's a bit weird to reach this point without feeling the exhilaration of a campaign's climax. However, this installment feels grand in scope, offers a lot of game play, and sets up the dramatic final volume with aplomb.


Our Price: $5.99

Add to Cart

A Magnificent Scenario

5/5

As the Pathfinders liberate people from the domain of Runelord Belimarius, they have a variety of role-playing and skill challenges to overcome. This scenario won't appeal to those thirsting for combat, but anybody who enjoys an adventure heavy on interaction and clever planning has hit the jackpot here.

Despite being the type of adventure that normally takes a lot of planning, The Burden of Envy is set up cleanly enough to allow for fast play with minimal preparation. Each challenge feels interesting and unique, and the scenario fails forward effectively so PCs won't wind up hitting a dead end if they botch a few rolls. In play, my players were all engaged and interested, often taking time between scenes to plan out their next efforts and create an effective heist (albeit with refugees instead of treasure at stake).

The only area where I wish this scenario had been fleshed out more was what happens if PCs break curfew. While allied NPCs take pains to spell out that the PCs shouldn't do so, players love to break things. A paragraph or two describing the consequences would have gone a long way. However, this minor issue is easily overshadowed by overall excellent quality of the module.

Although combat is possible at a few points in this scenario, PCs could get through the entire adventure without drawing their weapons. As a result, this isn't the adventure to run if your players thirst for battle. Unlike many role-playing heavy adventures, however, the non-combat challenges are clearly spelled out and flexible enough to fit many play styles. Even relatively timid players should find themselves engaged by this one. Overall, this is one of the most entertaining Society scenarios I've run.


Add Print Edition $24.99

Add PDF $17.99

Add Non-Mint $24.99 $18.74

Great Balance of Role-Playing and Action

5/5

One thing that I can say about the Age of Ashes adventure path is that Paizo didn't take it easy with the launch of the first second edition storyline. It would have been pretty easy to stick with a classic plot filled with lots of classic tropes but little story. Fires of the Haunted City, however, shows how you can have a classic-style story with a lot of new and interesting content.

I think this is the most interesting of the adventures so far, although each of the first three books also shined. PCs have to contend with a variety of monsters threatening a dwarven city, but they also have the difficult task of winning the favor of the dwarven rulers. This involves befriending guild leaders and navigating a fraught political scene where not everything is as it seems. While this makes for a more complicated adventure, the mechanics used to influence the guilds are all straightforward and easy to run.

The adventure makes the most of the underground environment, giving a lot of memorable locations for fights and providing villains that players will love to hate. For those who prefer to break off adventure paths before reaching the highest of levels, you can make a couple small adjustments to the end of this book and change it so the villain at the end is the one behind the whole affair. This would leave the PCs at 15th level at the end of the campaign.

Personally, though, I recommend forging forward and seeing what the last two books have to offer. As good as Fires of the Haunted City is, I don't think Age of Ashes has peaked. Overall, this campaign offers an excellent start for the new edition.


Our Price: $5.99

Add to Cart

Very good mystery, but needs some extra prep work

4/5

I think The Mosquito Witch stands out as a very good off-beat early introduction to Pathfinder 2nd edition. It plunges the PCs into a cryptid hunt, which is hard to pull off in a fantasy RPG setting. Moreover, it gives good GM advice on how to adjust the tone of the adventure, ranging from dark and creepy to silly and fun.

Most of this scenario involves a hunt through the wilderness in pursuit of the mysterious Mosquito Witch--a creature that may or may not even exist. The challenges are well-considered and the pacing is strong. The only reason that I give this scenario four stars instead of five is because the final results depend largely on GM preparation and tone consistency--something which can be challenging when dealing with the table of strangers which Pathfinder Society play often provides.

Essentially, this adventure needs the GM to have a well-formed idea as to how the adventure will play out tone-wise and to make sure that all the events in the adventure support that tone. It requires the players to buy into what the GM is selling in this regard. Most importantly, it needs the GM to commit to the chosen tone and make sure that all the events support that style of story.

This level of forethought and consistency in play can be difficult, especially if the GM lacks confidence or experience. For those who stumble, the module might feel a bit incomprehensible. On the other hand, those who commit to a specific tone will find this adventure to be very rewarding.

Long story short, The Mosquito Witch takes more effort to get "right" than many other scenarios, but it one of the most rewarding experiences I've seen when it all comes together.


Add Print Edition $24.99

Add PDF $17.99

Add Non-Mint $24.99 $18.74

Fun and Challenging, with Few Issues

4/5

Age of Ashes continues to provide some great variance in terms of the style of adventures it presents in each volume. While the first book provided a quintessential dungeon experience and the second book presented an extensive jungle exploration, this volume brings characters into a city as freedom fighters and slaver hunters.

Tomorrow Must Burn brings PCs to Ravounel, site of the Hell's Rebels adventure path. While playing that previous adventure might add some nice Easter eggs into this campaign, it's not necessary--players won't feel like they're left in the dark if they aren't familiar with the existing continuity there.

An urban adventure with a chance to form alliances among at least two secret organizations, this adventure feels different from what came before while still having a solid connection to the ongoing story. The road to Ravounel does have one major coincidence that GMs might need to smooth over to maintain the suspension of disbelief, however. The PCs just happen to show up in a remote area just as the bad guys are unleashing an evil scheme of their own, and it might seem contrived to players who jump on that sort of thing.

The adventure is paced well, although it lacks some of the useful notes that Cult of Cinders possessed which tells the GM how to adjust encounters if somebody raises an alarm. This makes the final encounter a bit challenging, as multiple encounters might get linked together and present an overwhelming challenge to PCs if the GM doesn't think all the contingencies through.

Despite a couple spots that might feel rough depending on your style of play, Tomorrow Must Burn is an engaging and fun adventure that keeps the Age of Ashes storyline moving along nicely. By the end of this adventure, PCs should have better insight as to what the Scarlet Triad wants and how they can stop the slavers from achieving their goals.


Add Print Edition $24.99

Add PDF $17.99

Non-Mint Unavailable

Excellent adventure, but prepare for a challenge

4/5

Story-wise, I think Cult of Cinders is better than Hellknight Hill, which itself was an excellent introduction to Pathfinder 2nd edition. This adventure features a wide variety of encounters, some fun hex-crawling, and many memorable NPCs.

The only thing that keeps this from being a five-star adventure to me is that the difficulty is a little over the top. I imagine that this is due to the adventure being early in the edition's life cycle. Many of the adventure's severe encounters serve as the only encounter that the PCs face during a day, which I think is fine. However, some of the adventuring sites have a habit of having monsters in other areas of the compound respond to the sounds of battle. This stacks multiple moderate encounters together, or in some cases multiple moderate challenges on top of a severe encounter. I highly recommend giving the PCs ample opportunities to escape when things go against them.

Storytelling-wise, Cult of Cinders uses the RPG trope I dislike of having an NPC's identical twin sub in for him if the NPC has already died elsewhere. Aside from that issue, though, the adventure has a lot of very memorable characters. Both allies and enemies are well fleshed-out and memorable. Adventure sites are interesting, and I always love an adventure with sandbox elements.

Overall, Cult of Cinders is an excellent adventure with a few minor kinks to it. Once you work around those issues, this serves as an amazing chapter to a good adventure path.


Print Edition Unavailable

Add PDF $17.99

Non-Mint Unavailable

New Edition, Old School Feel

5/5

Despite providing some new twists (such as rescuing goblins from a crazed halfling instead of the other way around), a lot of Hellknight Hill feels like a callback to older dungeon crawls. The PCs have a large structure to delve through and numerous factions with which to interact. A desire for exploration drives most of the adventure, allowing the PCs to grow together as a group and figure out how to unearth the secrets of Hellknight Hill in their own way.

The factions provide a lot of potential for expansion and interaction. In a short amount of space, the text delivers a good feel for each monster and its motivations. This leaves a lot of room for expansion of the GM desires and lets the PCs choose many different ways to bypass their problems. Do the adventurers kill all the monsters? Do they work with some of them? Play the different factions off of each other? These choices seem basic, but the fact that the adventure doesn't push the PCs too hard down one path allows the group to find their own identity and grow together as a team.

This volume lacks a real big bad at the end (although one particular nasty foe can turn into a TPK if the PCs get too cocky). Technically, the cultists the PCs face do have a named leader, but he and his followers are in a desperate situation themselves and don't feel like end bosses. However, their presence provides enough foreshadowing that PCs should be intrigued by what the future holds.

In terms of feel, I think this module compares to old school D&D modules like In Search of the Unknown and Keep on the Borderlands. The story unfolds gradually, but in doing so it showcases the latitude and depth of options that RPGs allow. The adventure thus serves as a great introduction to new players without repeating so many old tropes that old players might get bored.

Hellknight Hill serves as a solid first volume to the Age of Ashes adventure path, but it can also function as a stand-alone adventure if desired. It's a fun adventure with a wide variety of challenges, interesting NPCs, and lots of room for expansion.


Add Print Edition $24.99

Add PDF $17.99

A Strong Start to an Epic Campaign

4/5

Secrets of Roderic's Cove serves well as the start of the Rise of the Runelords adventure path and is strong enough in its own right to serve as a stand-alone adventure if desired. Since it covers a level 1-5 range, it could even serve as an entire campaign for somebody using the Beginner's Box if desired.

The town of Roderic's Cove has many problems, from a mini-gang war to the appearance of the ghost of the town founder. The order in which the PCs solve these problems depends on their choices. All told, the adventure features several dungeons, a monster-filled wilderness, a haunted house, and a mansion whose infiltration calls for stealth and guile. This is in addition to several encounters in the town itself, from monsters that attack in the night to the chaos caused by a renegade grimple.

Secrets of Roderic's Cove is much more of a sandbox than most other 1st-level adventures, and it serves well to establish the PCs as individuals with their own agency. The adventure path calls for a group that is willing to be proactive and solve problems in their own way, and this adventure sets that tone nicely.

It would have been nice to see more guidance in certain areas - the aforementioned mansion could be difficult to run for a GM who doesn't handle infiltration missions well, for example. I also miss certain adventure path features such as the foreword and the fiction, but I understand that certain sacrifices have to be made for the line's first 1-20 non-mythic adventure path. Overall, this book is a strong start to a campaign and a good adventure to have even if you don't plan to run the full path.


Add Print Edition $24.99

Add PDF $17.99

A Great Adventure with Many Different Options

5/5

After learning in the previous adventure that Alaznist may have returned, the PCs find themselves off to the Runelord's old lair of Hollow Mountain to confirm their suspicions. But first, they have numerous new NPCs and challenges to face as they journey to Magnimar.

The first part of this adventure is a voyage by ship with several suspicious characters and a chance for some great problem-solving and role-playing. One of the NPCs, a gregarious diva who mysteriously seems unable to perform on a stage, stands out as particularly interesting with the potential to enrapture and frustrate adventurers as they try to figure her out.

The journey is an interesting stretch of adventure for those who want more than combat and traps, but the meat of this adventure is Hollow Mountain itself. The dungeon contains numerous fascinating monsters and interesting NPC enemies, some of whom can become allies depending on the approach the PCs take. It also has lots of traps and puzzles to challenge the PCs' problem-solving abilities.

The puzzles in particular deserve special note because they serve as interesting challenges without completely shutting down players who aren't particularly talented or interested in that style of exploration. Each puzzle has multiple ways through it, including one where the answer is plainly written (albeit in Thassilonian - somebody read the Player's Guide and took that, right?) right in front of the PCs.

Of course, each solution has its price. If PCs choose to bash their way through a puzzle instead of relying on arcane lore, they face more monsters to battle. If they read the obvious solution in front of them, they face a dangerous creature before going through the rest of the complex. I see these different paths as a good thing - a skill with solving puzzles helps the PCs proceed, but the game doesn't grind to a halt if the PCs can't figure things out right away.

Similarly, the adventure features several foes, including some in the dungeon, who can become allies. It's rare for a dungeon crawl to offer so many solutions, but this adventure can effectively accommodate almost any style of group. You can bash your way through all obstacles, talk your way past multiple foes, make the path easier through puzzle-solving, or take a mixed strategy and still accomplish the same goals at the end.

Overall, It Came From Hollow Mountain is an excellent and well-paced dungeon adventure. None of the encounters feel like repeats or padding, and the PCs have the freedom to proceed through the adventure in whatever way they choose. I hope to see more dungeon adventures that offer the same variety of interesting creatures, compelling NPCs, and depth of options in the future.


Add PDF $9.99

Non-Mint Unavailable

Best for newbies, but useful for everyone.

4/5

Getting a Game Master's Guide together for a role-playing game is pretty hard work. Everyone has a different opinion of what it should include. Thanks to the fact that the Pathfinder RPG already has all the necessary rules information in its Core Rulebook and Bestiary, Paizo manages to dodge this difficulty a bit with their GameMastery Guide, focusing on advice and tools that both new and experienced GMs can use. While there's a little rules information, the book is mostly chocked full of advice and tools ranging from random treasure tables to dozens of ready-to-use NPC stat blocks.

In terms of usefulness, the book is definitely going to be used more by new or inexperienced GMs. The bulk of the guide is advice ranging from getting a playing group together to world-building and designing adventures. Mind you, it's all good advice - the writers remain well-grounded in what is useful to gamers now, even bringing in technologies such as text messaging and wikis that can be useful tools for a GM. However, if you're an experienced GM, most of the advice amounts to a retelling of what you already know. The tables and stat blocks, however, are extremely useful in games, allowing any GM to speed things up by having a ready-made stat block of the city guard the PCs just enraged or a random table to roll on when the PCs discover a surprise cache of treasure. Whether this information justifies the price tag, though, is a matter of opinion. New GMs should definitely pick up this guide, as it is a great toolbox to learn how to run a game. More experienced GMs might find the book less useful outside of a few key sections. Fortunately, for the latter, there's always the option to just purchase the PDF for about $10 - an excellent compromise that allows everyone to use the wealth of material within on their own terms.


Print Edition Unavailable

Add PDF $12.99

Non-Mint Unavailable

I will never look at bugbears the same way again!

5/5

Too often in fantasy role-playing games, be they Dungeons & Dragons or another system, the most popular monsters end up being little more than clones or parodies of one another. Orcs end up being slightly tougher versions of goblins, and ogres are just bigger orcs. Classic Creatures Revisited seeks to put this problem to rest, and does so admirably.

Technically, this book uses the 3.5 edition of the Dungeons & Dragons rules. However, outside of a few sidebars, the book is almost entirely role-playing information and adventure ideas, meaning it can be used in any edition of D&D -- or, really, in any fantasy role-playing system. What this book offers is a chance to look at the old standards differently. Bugbears go from being big goblins to the bogeymen that hide under children's beds. Kobolds are sneaky, devious creatures that strike from the shadows using traps and stealth. Goblins are psychotic and dangerous, but somehow cute in their own gremlin-esque way. Each entry has details on a monster's culture, ecology, and how they can be fit into the campaign. While the book is intended to be used in the Pathfinder setting of Golarion, it is almost entirely generic, and can be ported over to any game.

This book offers the most valuable resources of all: the chance for Game Masters to get a fresh look on creatures and new ideas for all manner of terrific adventures. From a player's perspective, it's a wonderful read and a chance to get some insight on some classic fantasy monsters. I can't recommend it highly enough.