Madge Blossomheart

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Card Game Subscriber. FullStarFullStarFullStarFullStarFullStar Pathfinder Society GM. 66 posts (1,523 including aliases). 9 reviews. No lists. No wishlists. 57 Organized Play characters. 5 aliases.



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Actually 3.5 stars

***( )( )

I was super excited to get Ruins of Azlant, and there is a lot to like about this first installment. There is a lot of discovery going on in Part 1, instead of it being just a way to get out of level 1. There is an interesting cast of NPCs for the party to get involved with, and I feel like it's a more manageable number than in Skull & Shackles, with some great scripted interactions.

So why only 3.5 stars? First of all, the AP suffers from lack of battle maps. The entire first part of the AP has one non-grid-lined map and nothing to cover the combats. It would have been helpful to at least have suggestions of Flip Mats and Map Packs to use instead. As it is, I'm probably going to be cannibalizing from a lot of them and being like, "I know it's not the same shape as it was on the outside. Just go with it." Since I run online, I may also just super enlarge the big map.

The second issue is that I feel like a certain point in the AP doesn't give appropriate guidance as to why the PCs would go to a particular place. Everything for the first two parts has a logical motivation, but then it becomes a description of places where the PCs need to go without any impetus for that particular place. Yes, I can make something up, but the lack of a quest-give in this place feels like an oversight.


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Best Scenario I've Seen

*****

I'm actually surprised by a lot of the vitriol I see for this scenario, because I think it's the BEST scenario I've seen. The scenario gives the players a series of tasks that they have a variety of methods to complete. This is not necessarily uncommon, but often as a GM I am not given sufficient guidance on what to do if the players go off the rails. Forged in Flame Part I gives the GM ample guidance of what to do in a variety of specific situations and also provides some guidance on what to do for other things. Players can take the good or morally dubious route, and they can take the skill or combat route, and they are not punished for taking any of these options.

We ran this with 3 tables at my local gaming store, and each table chose to approach the challenges a different way. One table fought just about everything, and one table had no "real" combats. (I ran the middle of the road table that had a couple of combats.)

I also like that the second prestige point is winnable but not guaranteed.


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Best of the AP

*****

I think Dance of the Damned is the best book of what is an absolutely stellar AP. Reading through, I liked Turn of the Torrent better, but in play Dance of the Damned really shone. (Fewer lawful allies that the group had to appease.)

Dance of the Damned had something for everyone. My fighty types enjoyed the underwater mission and the siege of Menador Keep, and the more diplomatic types had fun at the parties. I for one am always glad to see a segment of adventure where there is no expectation that initiative be rolled. Rebels provides these, and the best is right here. The reveal of the boss of the adventure in the Dismal Nitch was also particularly memorable.

The epic final adventure demands to be run in person and can be done in a day (though I imagine I could have made it work online as well.) The entire affair was definitely memorable for my players.


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Continuation of a Great AP

*****

Reading through Turn of the Torrent, it was my second favorite book of the AP, and the NPCs were my favorite of the AP. I mean, who doesn't want to see a good-aligned Hellknight, a ridiculously good-looking naval captain, and a Tien investigator with goggles?

Turn of the Torrent didn't run quite as smoothly as I anticipated, but not enough to take off a star. There was one part the players were supposed to get through without combat, but when I ran it as written, the players saw no choice but combat. A couple of parts ran better than I anticipated, though. I was concerned about the large underwater dungeon being frustrating, but my players managed it fine. My newest player said she enjoyed it quite a bit. I was also concerned that the party would not have enough time to get the rebellion to a higher level, but the events stretched through more weeks than I anticipated. My players were rebellion rank 9 by the end.

All in all, this second installment of the AP has made the players more interested and invested in their characters in the story. I cannot recommend this AP highly enough.


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****( )

My first response to the Oracle class deck characters was one disappointment. Their powers involve a lot of discarding from the top of the deck, which is not my favorite play mechanic. But then I decided that I was bound to be disappointed with the deck because Alahazra from Skull & Shackles was my favorite character ever. I decided to stop comparing and look at the Oracle deck for what it was.

Ramexes was my immediate first pick for a character. With powerful melee and decent divine, he looked like he played like class deck Kyra with some scouts and extra explores instead of heals.

Alahazra at first looks a bit too much like class deck Seoni, except needing to discard cards from the top of her deck instead of her hand to attack. But there are a lot of attack spells in the oracle deck, so she can set herself up to only need to discard from her deck in a pinch, with the aid of a helpful haversack. Her ability to scout extra cards when scouting couples well with the many scouting boons in the deck.

Grazzle's sacrificing cards from the top of his deck to heal others at any location is powerful but definitely lends itself to players with a risky play style.

The boons are fun and include many scouting cards and a few previews of what is to come in the Mummy's Mask set. I recommend this deck to anyone who likes to play less heal-y divine casters in PACG.


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Great Info on More Deities

*****

Inner Sea Gods is perhaps my favorite campaign setting book for Pathfinder, so seeing several of the "lesser" deities get the same treatment in Inner Sea Faiths was very exciting for me. The book contains deific obediences and evangelist/exalted/sentinel boons for each of 15 deities, and aside from that, the book contains pure setting info for the gods. I do like deity-specific items and spells, but I was more excited to see information about the history and worship of these deities. Alseta and Naderi were the ones I was most interested in, but I was also excited to see more about Achaekek, Sivanah, Hanspur, and Groetus. There's at least one deity of every alignment, so there should be something for a variety of play choices.


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Great Options for Pathfinder

*****

I'm a huge fan of the rules options in Pathfinder Unchained. They do a great job of creating fixes to some of the potential issues with the Pathfinder system without upsetting the entire rule system.

I'm one of those weird people who loved playing my TWF core rogue through all 11 levels of PFS, but I have to admit that the unchained rogue is an improvement. I also actually prefer the unchained summoner to the base summoner; even though the new one may seem less powerful, it's more thematically appropriate. I'm considering playing a summoner for the first time.

I've been using some of the alternate rules systems in my Hell's Rebels campaign, and I like how they are working out. I'm using automatic bonus progression at least in part because I know some of my players like to ignore the Big 6, or spend all their gold on +6 stat items as soon as possible to the exclusion of other items. This way I know their AC is still going up, and they'll end up more balanced. I can now also let them craft---using the much more engaging dynamic item creation rules---without worrying too much about wealth by level.

Some of the rules I wouldn't personally implement. I feel like alignment affirmations will just lead to alignment arguments at the table, and in my experience, multiclassers don't need the boost from partial base attack bonus increases. But I am glad that these options exist for tables that want them.


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A great sampler of Golarion

*****

Distant Shores was a book that I was interested in as soon as it was announced. I love the Inner Sea region, but was interested to see what was outside the Inner Sea. Paizo featured some of their top writers in Distant Shores, and it really shows in how the cities are detailed and full of interesting plot hooks that I'd love to see fleshed out in future modules.

For me, Aelyosis in Iblydos was the breakout hit. Everything about this city, from the Cyclops and human co-habitation to the oceanic threats to the mysterious Hero-Gods made me want to learn more about the setting and this city. Anuli in Southern Garund and Segada in Arcadia also revealed some information about areas that I have long been interested in. I think the land that worships Empyreal Lords (and sometimes Asmodeus) is great for religious flavor, and Arcadia has constructs with class levels, which are amazing. Dhucharg and Radripal were a little on the evil side, and Ular Kel a little on the capitalist side, to be my favorites, but I still enjoyed reading about them.

I usually flip through my campaign setting subscription, but this one I read cover to cover and immediately bought for a friend as a Christmas gift. If you have any interest in seeing what's outside the Inner Sea Region, I strongly recommend this book.


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Recommend strongly

*****

When I heard Paizo’s AP for the second half of 2015 was going to involve rebelling against House Thrune, I was very excited. So while I was predisposed to like it because of content, a year of excitement also had the potential for a substantial let down. Fortunately, it did not disappoint. I am not generally one to gush, but I really feel like there’s no other reaction I can have to Hell’s Rebels. After I read the first volume, I spent every month chomping at the bit for my next subscription order to ship so that I could read the next installment.

I have now run In Hell’s Bright Shadow, and it’s a great first level adventure to read and run---and play, judging by the reactions of my players. It has a mix of story, investigation, and dungeon crawls that make the first few levels feel like more than something to get through so you can be higher level. The humanoid NPCs are a little vanilla, but they make great allies for forming a rebellion. And if your players want a tiny, non-humanoid ally of either the good or evil persuasion, they will have that opportunity as well.

I cannot speak highly enough of the Kintargo gazetteer. Usually I find gazetteers kind of boring, but this one gave me tons of information I could use in my adventure. It helped me flesh out my players’ backstories so that they could feel involved in the city. As examples, I have a tengu who’s created a little cadre of tengu merchants on Bleakbridge, a professor at a secretive school for half-elf girls, and a member of the city dottari who’s trying to recruit some like-minded colleagues (while keeping her extracurricular activities secret from her boss).

I was dubious about the rebellion rules because I haven’t really enjoyed my experience with the kingdom building rules---too easy for one or two people to do everything while everyone else sits their twiddling their thumbs. The decisions in the rebellion actually allow for a lot of role-playing, though. I have had one player take charge of the system, but other people input what they want to be doing.

If you like urban adventures or have a long- (or short-) standing desire to take on house Thrune, Hell’s Rebels lives up to all expectations.