I see a lot of people here are complaining about how linear the whole campaign setting is, as well as a few problems with how boring a lot of the journey seemed to be. I played this as a player and we had a blast. While we did have a minor complaint about the linear path we were to take to get to the destination it didn't take long until we were simply having a blast journeying through Gorund.
The random encounters proved to be something that everyone hoped for since it boosted our XP bonuses, and allowed for us to feel like we were back in the turn based RPG days where we would farm for hours to get to the next level by walking in circles in one room. While few people enjoyed that portion of those games I loved it since it enabled myself to get to a much higher level without fighting higher level opponents.
The various NPCs that you meet and travel with are interesting and fairly unique. Add in some of the difficult weather encounters and it feels like you're looking into an actual epic journey instead of just fast traveling there. It gives you respect and perspective on what your asking your characters to do. With an interesting group and a good DM this can be a really great AP, but since it's a little hit and miss for those purposes I can't give it five stars. I guess my group just lucked out with a DM who has run this campaign before, and a group of fairly evil individuals who made the journey seem very strange compared to a lot of other APs we ran before.
I know it's a little silly to be writing a review before running this in one of my games, but I can't help but feel that I have a decent understanding of all of the base problems and glories associated with it. So far I have this campaign planned and am REALLY looking forward to it, (though we need to wait a few months since it will be a sequel to our Rise of The Runelords campaign that we're currently running). Since it's my turn to DM next amongst my role-playing group I'm glad I got to run the Asian themed campaign since I indulge in that sort of thing.
To start off the beginning was a little disheartening at first seeing as how the party kind of has to meet up with the DM's help, but afterword the campaign really kicks off without much effort. The sandbox style of play in the swamp was really neat, and added a sense of wonder where, and what my party will do when they are roaming around in there. The encounter with the Goblins was interesting, but afterwords I had a little issue since I'm not sure if every group will be entirely ready to chase after skeletons when they were sent into the swamp to hunt Goblins. Though incentive to do so is provided I'm still thinking that complications may arise since it seems like a shot in the dark type of option.
Afterwords it seems like they kind of forced players into the caravan when the book even mentions more efficient alternatives, but none the less it gives reasons for it. The caravan encounters are nice since after book 2 of Serpent's Skull I don't think I could handle another extremely elongated random encounters section in a book. I have read all six Jade Regent books, and am really thankful for these rules later on. While I know I could just have a game without these encounters it just wouldn't give the thrills of a long and dangerous journey without some unknowns happening along the way.
Once the group finally makes it to the end dungeon of Brinewall it was a massive dungeon crawl that seems like it most certainly will take several days to successfully clear out. To be honest I'm a little worried as of how long it will take to get my group through that dungeon so I'm almost wondering if I have to cut a few rooms out entirely to keep the game flowing.
All in all though there were plenty of good challenges, and at the very least this makes for great reading material. I will be playing this in a few months, and I have honestly never been so excited to play a campaign, but it is a little disheartening knowing how long it will take before the group actually manages to make it to Tian Xia since this is the only campaign that visits the continent.