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Sandbox = DM Work

4/5

The feedback I've read here is fair. The beginning is excellent, the middle is monotonous, and the dungeon crawl at the end is an OK capstone to the adventure. Fortunately as a DM, I read these reviews and tweak the modules accordingly...which is probably why you are reading this, too.

To make it fun, you have to break up the monotony of the sandbox. I created a few of my own ships with their own captains. I added a few twists here and there: a Nidalese military vessel, an Aspis Consortium vendetta, and a trip to Mediogalti Island, to name a few things to make the adventure stand out. It worked, but it required a bit of work on the part of the DM. It also helped to generate some random crew members and give them random personality traits, too...the players were really into making their ship and crew memorable, not just a bunch of lackluster followers.

Something I didn't anticipate, though, is that the power level of the encounters at the end are a bit unbalanced. If run as written, the canopy creeper would have easily been a TPK, the group after group of sahuagin would not have budged even a dent in party resources, and the final encounter would have been a pushover. It's almost a clone of the dungeon in the first module.

If I had it to do over, I would have added a few gimmicks to the bland groups of sahuagin, and also made sure to check and recheck the powers of the boss monsters.


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Fun Premise, Good Delivery

4/5

I ran a group of mid-level gamers through this module. I find the feedback of other gamers to be incredibly useful and mostly agree with the other comments. A few things I didn't see, but made running the module difficult:

1) The information is way too scattered. If you need a specific NPC's stats, you'll thumb through about 16 times in order to find it. Same with the rules for Plunder, Infamy, Ship to Ship combat, etc. It seems to be an Achilles' heel of the AP overall. Now that it's out of print, my suggestion to Paizo, if they ever decide to compile it as a hardback in the same vein as earlier APs, is that they consolidate the heck out of it. Lump all the NPCs together in one section. Put all the new rules together. Etc.

2) Where it drags on--day by day as pirates--can be a drudge. You'll have to work with your players, and do a bit of homework as a GM to make it interesting.

3) For a group playing a "non evil pirates" campaign, be prepared to swap out some encounters. This is a bigger challenge in Module 2, where people can be sold into slavery, but still worth mentioning here.

4) Make sure your players have enough resources to survive swarm encounters before they get on the island! I had to cheat a little bit by stuffing a few flasks of alchemist fire and acid in some of the treasure on the island. Otherwise it would have been a TPK after 1-2 botfly encounters.

5) The final encounter is a weird setup that you will have to adjust. Plugg and Scourge give the PCs a short amount of time to get supplies, but at the same time there's no way to run through all the encounters in that time. Maybe make it one of the reasons they are mad at the PCs?

6) The ghouls deserve a story! I made the underwater encounter a bit more interesting and added some plunder for recovering the wreck, otherwise there's absolutely nothing there for anyone.


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One of the most fun modules ever!

5/5

My DM ran this module in between Kingmaker module 5 and 6. My worry going into it was that the encounters would either be, for our level, too challenging (TPK) or not challenging enough. Instead, this module was one successful "gotcha" after another, in which every member of the party was forced to think how we get out of each situation. No spoilers here, but we had to deal with domination, blindness, petrification, and, of course, mortality. The best part is that I can see this going a completely different direction if we had made different choices.


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One of the best AP modules, with extra bonus material

5/5

Short disclaimer: I have not run this module. That being said, the bonus material alone is fantastic. One new NPC for each previous adventure path, plus some killer critters in the bestiary. Flipping through the module section, I see lots of interesting encounters that would be very challenging, indeed, to a party of 10+ level adventurers.


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Recommended

5/5

A very good read if you are at all interested in: Pharasma, heretics, investigators, demons / devils, the Boneyard, Axis, Thuvia, the sun orchid elixir, or Rahadoum.


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Flavorful and interesting

5/5

First, thanks very much to Paizo for crowdsourcing the playtest of this material.

There are an overwhelming amount of options. Each of the new classes looks fun and interesting, and nothing I would want to sit on a shelf and never look at again. I think I'd want to play every class! Perhaps the names don't always fit the classes, but what seems lacking in flavor really gets going when you introduce the archetypes. I appreciate that the archetypes are multi-cultural as well.

The downside is, not all these classes are going to fit in well with a typical campaign. Mesmerist, for example, looks fantastic as a supporting character, but would not be survivable at all in a hack and slash style dungeon crawl. There's nothing broken overall that I can find, but there are a few things that border on ridiculous. Chakras, for example, as written don't make sense to have a character take extra feats just to make two saving throws every round, all for a set of wimpy powers.


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The challenge was delightfully creepy

5/5

I don't read spoilers, which is a good thing. My DM ran this module and I was blissfully happy that I had no idea what was in store.

The good? Some of the traps were cliffhangers that kept our group on the edge of our seats. I was particularly happy for quick thinking--my cleric cast silence on one of the front line combat characters in combat with the lich. It was still a rough module, but could have been a TPK several times over.

The bad? The module didn't have enough to do with the plot. We still have many unanswered questions about how any of it ties in. Ah well.

It made for a memorable experience, nevertheless.


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Best adventure path setting in quite a while

5/5

Iron Gods is a very inspired Adventure Path. Admittedly, sci fi setting isn't for everybody. But if you are considering running a sci fi world, everything about this first module is bursting with new, creative energy.


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I'm going to have to agree on the 4 star consensus

4/5

To be fair, there were a great many things that were fixed in playtesting--and, I agree, there are probably an equal number of things left broken.

Still, my biggest issue with the book is not the balance (overall I think they did a fairly decent job), but the overall "flavor", or lack thereof, in the hybrid classes in the first place. Arcanist--why bother combining sorcerer and wizard, if it isn't saving the hassle of any rules? Investigator--great name / concept, terrible implementation--why combine alchemist with anything? But it does have its wins--I think brawler, skald, shaman, warpriest, even bloodrager--all have enough to stand well on their own.

And let's not forget all the other interesting stuff in the book. Some very useful spells and feats, for example, that have been orphaned and don't have anywhere else to go. Definitely worth getting the book for some of that material, at least.


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Adds a new, fun mechanic to social encounters

4/5

As a DM, I'm always on the lookout for new things to make the social element a bit more interesting. These cards add a new mechanic slightly aligned with the "skill challenge" concept that D&D Fifth Edition brought to the game, only different in that there are four "suits": Bluff, Sense Motive, Diplomacy, and Intimidate. The mechanic plays out on a 3x3, 4x4, or 5x5 grid, depending on how "challenging" you want the encounter to be.

If done randomly, as suggested, the cards play out in interesting ways, sometimes ways that don't particularly make sense to the encounter at hand. Obviously you would want to limit their use, or exercise some latitude (draw a new card if you don't think it works), and allow the players some of their own interpretations.

Nevertheless, these do the trick if you are the kind of DM who wants random social challenges to be their own part of the game. I would make the following recommendations:

Let the players pick which skills (suits) they want to use in the encounter, then shuffle those cards.

Limit the grid to 3x3. The more cards that are involved, the more players' attention can wander. A 4x4 grid is "more challenging" but ultimately "less fun." If you want to make the encounter more challenging, just change the DCs on the cards or add a handicap.

Let the players make the narrative fit the cards.

Let the players "pass" if they feel their character can't contribute, or doesn't meet the skills on the cards.

Forget the "social initiative" mechanic completely. Just go around the table clockwise or counter-clockwise.

Most importantly, as a DM, don't use them for every social encounter (maybe once or twice per 3-4 hour game session). They are particularly useful if you don't have a specific investment in the outcome of a social encounter, but want to give the players a chance to pass or fail based on their social interactions, playing to their individual strengths and weaknesses.

I would give it 5 starts, except that I have the caveats listed above. Nevertheless, fun to use, but not for every game or social encounter.