Mordenkainen

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Goblin Squad Member. FullStarFullStarFullStarFullStarFullStar Pathfinder Society GM. 8,184 posts (8,420 including aliases). 41 reviews. 3 lists. 1 wishlist. 17 Organized Play characters. 5 aliases.



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Holds up well

****( )

I've had the chance to run this series twice (about 6 & 8 years ago), both times retiring characters satisfactorily. Once it was a

Spoiler:
PC with the Living Monolith prestige class - that was particularly memorable for him.
I particularly find this adventure to be one of the best for Osirian flavor.

I recently had the chance to play through this as well, and thoroughly enjoyed it. While the ending has a few issues as mentioned, and the series as a whole tends to be easier now than 8 years ago, the finale holds up. Several layers of creepy - from the initial "briefing" to meeting the sisters, the crawl through the dungeon - it really builds the tension, especially

Spoiler:
6 damn mummies!

The actual finale of course should almost be played for laughs to break that tension, but ce la vie. All in all, still very enjoyable.


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One of the Best Scenarios*

****( )

I just ran What Prestige is Worth and everyone had a great time and was very pleased by the end. It did run an hour over, with a soft rush towards the end (but nothing really skipped). The mid-session timer is a great idea, but I really like that there's another mechanic to cut off the first half if you want to give the scenario a longer time slot (vs. certain challenging scenarios having a strict time limit).

* (-1 star): This scenario shares the fatal flaw of The Disappeared - the players are railroaded to assist Zarta Dralneen whom I despise beyond all measure - but this was truly a joy to run (much like The Disappeared), even if I wouldn't ever want to play it (other than to send Zarta to Hell permanently).


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Half Drag, Half Thrill

***( )( )

So this was my final (pre-Seeker) scenario for one of my favorite characters.

A few months after playing this, all the events in Chesed are virtually gone from my memory (which is unusual), but the end "dungeon" turned out to be one of my favorite areas and really engaging. I enjoy the mix of 'slow' and 'fast' challenges that both let you think on how to respond and require immediate action.


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Solid Gold Awesome

*****

My spouse and I haven't been so captured by a RPG book in ages - this was hours of fun just paging through, imagining so many different scenarios, uses, quirks, builds, stories, and fights.

For Campaigns, this is some awesomely rules for traversing the planes, in short or long form.

For GMs, fantastic monsters and plot hooks.

For PCs some really fantastic magic items and feats, many of them versatile and adaptable to many of the planes instead of being heavily tied to one.

An amazing finale for the Pathfinder line.


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Flavorful if strong ootions

****( )


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Startlingly Effective

*****

When I prepared this scenario, I was half cackling and half crying at what felt to be an absolutely inevitable TPK. I was wrong, and am highly impressed. DO NOT RUN THIS COLD.

This scenario is comprehensive in scope, funny and new in execution, and nigh bewildering in complexity. For the last though, the support *is* there in the scenario to make it manageable (unlike e.g. 9-05). Meaningful choices are found throughout, beginning to end. Bravo! The BBEG is well-developed, and matches her traits described in the previous scenario it 'appeared' in.

There are some editing improvements possible. A lot of minor items are insufficiently described, leaving it to the GM to come up with (e.g. whether certain effects can be tracked to their source). Overall, with careful preparation, they did not detract.

Overall, my only real complaint, and still not worth a loss of star, has to do with the Scarab Sage faction boon.

Boon Beef:
For once, I can pleasantly say that making certain faction related choices *don't* negatively impact the whole table (via prestige). Thank you thank you thank you. Crushing the Diamond or Emerald Sage Jewels is a valid option for non-jerks. My only complaint is that the boon being lost doesn't really match the condition very well.

While this scenario is certainly unique and deserved high challenge, I do think it continues a trend this season of having exceptionally difficult scenarios. I've had more deaths and near TPKs this season than any in a while.


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Convoluted to the extreme

**( )( )( )

Overall, this is a four star scenario, with a nice change up in the flow, and other decent encounter designs. It fails on three main points however.

Spoiler:
First, the initial assumption that the PCs are going to obey Zarta Dralneen, instead of arresting, killing, or snubbing her. This is a half-loved, half-despised character, and should not be giving direct orders to regular Pathfinders.

Second, every single encounter in this scenario is extremely complicated, with pages of material for environmental effects, interactions (before, during, and after combat), and that doesn't even cover the statblocks. The combats would be overly deadly, except most GMs won't be able to keep track of everything going on.

Third, 7 books as resources, including four bestiaries, with every referenced creature *also* referencing additional books. This isn't quite the finale to Serpent's Ire, but it's close, and just too much for a Tier 3-7.

Edit: Post-play feedback - the encounter at the Arcanamirium essentially has no "early bail-out" option/rules, to simply avoid the encounter. It relies on the PCs to do as their told by some random faction head. Even with three members of that faction, they felt it best to just get rid of the creature.

There's definitely some kudos to be handed out for inclusions of some things, but overall it's a mess. A handout to track afflictions, room effects, etc., would have been helpful.

Edit: I wrote this review initially before running the scenario, but it failed to post correctly. Thankfully I managed to recover it (yay Lazarus). After running it, I stand by all the points above. We managed to have a fun night with it, despite *very* close to a TPK, but even the most engaged players were shaking their heads at a lot of the scenario.


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Half great, Half punishment

**( )( )( )

The first half of the scenario, romping around the town, interacting with NPCs, was one of the best of that sort in a long long time. It reminded me of City of Strangers and Shades of Ice, with all the recent season enhancements to smooth things out.

The second half was at best maddening, at worst a punishment for realistic roleplaying.

Spoiler:
Our conversation with the entity at the end was disorienting and dragged out. We decided, as we felt any *sane* adventurer would (or even mildly crazy one) that drinking as directed would be a Very Bad Idea. That lost of half our gold, and half our prestige. Consequences? Sure. Punished for being rational? Please no.

I didn't get any 'preachiness' out of the scenario at all - that might have helped. I look forward to more from the author, as long as the spoilered issue(s) don't repeat.


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Convoluted to the extreme

**( )( )( )

While it contains some well-thought out throwbacks to the first Aspis special, this one (even the new version) is simply painfully convoluted and overwrought. The sheer number of obscure creatures, classes, archetypes, templates, spells, and items used makes game play tedious at best (in two cases five different obscure sources simultaneously). Most of the backstory is simply inaccessible to players, despite the 'research' focus of the mission.

It's only redeeming qualities are callbacks (and callforwards in the background info), and some potential for freeform wonkiness in a creative party.

Not recommended, even as a follow-up for big fans of Serpent's Rise.


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Great story, questionable art

***( )( )

I thouroughly enjoyed reading through Runescars #1 - a nice callback to the era of Curse of the Crimson Throne, good dialogue and interactions, and a delightful 'monster' appearance. Even the cliffhanger was better than the usual.

But I have to say the art is lacking - characters are only marginally recognizable, and some facial expressions are purely disappointing. Hopefully it will improve in the next issues.


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A continuing disappointment

*( )( )( )( )

The ACG had problems. Many problems. And it continues to have problems.

From concept ("Let's make ten classes as complicated and broken as the magus, or more so!"), to out-of-whack game design, to simply poor editing, the ACG is a mess. The book's philosophy seems to be "create a new utterly unbalanced mechanic, and proliferate it as far as possible." The (quickly issued) errata pulled some of it a bit more into line, but it just doesn't come close to correcting it.

Even something as simple as alchemical items are way out there. Holy Weapon Balm costs 5gp more than holy water, and does 1400% more damage. And that doesn't even include increasing damage to incorporeal creatures.

Even two years after it was released, I continue to be impressed with the complete disregard for balance and sense in this book. If power creep had happened this much every year, we'd be looking at 9999 damage caps by now. The ACG stands out for its insanity.

Perhaps pulping it for the cover error would have been the better move.


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A great romp and a good challenge

****( )

I had a blast playing this - lots of great goblin love, interesting mechanics, and fairly tough fights. Even some real tactical options (though 'run in and wreak havoc' seems the gobliniest).

While technically the "lowest level", it might be good to start newbies off with the regular WBG, and follow that up with this as "do you want to know how they got all those strange things?"

Overall a great followup, that proves you don't have to add all sorts of strange powers to make things interesting and challenging.


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Loads of fun, stands the test of time

*****

While no scenario is unbreakable, this one provides lots of challenging opportunities for a classic party of "Raiders" - don't miss it!


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Delightfully Inventive

****( )

Nice write-ups and plentiful variety of both CR's and monster types. The flavor is the focus, but crunch is all there too, with just a couple clunky but still useable special abilities.

The Embodiments of each Sin are a fantastic resource for when a party fails to stop or creates a giant mess of evil. You know, the times you just want to throw away the rulebook and cry.

If you're running any of the Runelord based APs, get this as a great supplement to swap out any repetitive encounters!


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*****


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Everything, but everything you could want in a Pathfinder Tale!

*****

Lord of Runes is simply marvelous, especially for anyone who fell in love with Varisia, or played or ran any of the first three adventure paths.

Runelord, check! Korvosa and Kaer Maga, check! A certain Pathfinder known to roam the area, check!

Action, Magic, Character struggles and triumphs, check check check! A terrible last joke, check!

Could not put this one down!


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Vivid Adventure and Real Characters

*****

Howard Andrew Jones has placed this incredible story exactly halfway between a pirate's search for loot and a noble tale of sacrifice to preserve a culture (or two!)

Every character rippled off the pages with life - keep these coming!


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Startlingly good

*****

I thoroughly enjoyed the original Pathfinder Legends for Rise of the Runelords. This arc begins with the same core characters, Merisiel, Ezren, Harsk, and Valeros, now gone to Osirion.

The story takes and trims judiciously from the adventure, using several of the potential plot points and role-playing opportunities in a delightfully natural, game-like feel. The balance of action felt better in this as well (a bit fewer sword-fights for fighting's sake). The story also keeps up the pace with an inventive story-telling convention not typically employed by a tabletop group.

I'm very happy to report that 'The Half-Dead City' is spoiler-free for future books in the Adventure Path (not quite true of Rise of the Runelords). In fact, since the book offers so many potential hooks, it almost feels like you could play this for a group before running them through it without giving too much away. Almost.

Top notch voice-acting, although I personally have trouble telling apart the voice-actors for Merisiel and Velrianna (they *are* different, I checked). However they're rarely in the same scene fortunately.

I really can't wait to share this with my group half-way through the AP, both to enjoy and to remind them of some of the earlier plot points they may have forgotten.


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Well-done and cinematic, but...

****( )

This hour of the production was very well produced, suspenseful, fun, and used some of the most intriguing ways that the story can move forward (based on the original adventure). Five stars all the way by those measures.

I just had to take one star off for the vastly untouched swath of the last section of the AP. There was no time for it, but I missed it still.


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Wrapped up with a big shiny bow

*****

A delightful finish! Lots of elements from throughout the series all came back around in this one. Plenty of 'new' to the interactions and story as well. Also it was particularly nice for me as we skipped the first section (of the module and CD) in my actual game, and this filled in the gap nicely.

Bravo Big Finish!


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Top-notch, despite a huge disappointment

*****

First, my frustration:

Osirion Mission:
Much like "The Disappeared", the SS mission here is the main mission for the Pathfinders. This makes the only test of the mission the competency of the Pathfinders assigned to it, not the choices made any faction. I/my character was decidedly against succeeding to improve the fortunes of the Diamond Sage, but even my inaction would have run afoul of the "Don't Be a Jerk" rule. As it worked out, once again I had the single choice to Act against my conscience, or support the group. The Group won, as it should.

Second, brilliant scenario!

  • Great diversity of magical effects.
  • *Tough* choices, that made it feel like we really were deciding the fate of things (though this made my frustration even more hard to accept).
  • Creature type variety was a bit low, but that's okay.
  • Intelligent play is rewarded, and mistakes are punished.
  • Interesting characters to role-play with! (Although one's speech gimick was just too tough for our GM to run with).
  • Fantastic ending room, with lots of hints and clues to catch and connect to future scenarios.

    Matt - you've definitely replicated the success you had with Destiny part 2, an old-school scenario with all the trimmings, with this high-level romp. Thank you.


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    Perfection

    *****

    Everything I hoped for and more - this medallion is perfect. The large medallion is thin enough to avoid a heavy drag on your neck, with great details and a substantial chain that doesn't look like it will break easily with long wear. The tiny gemstone (plastic I think) looks very nice, a very subtle touch.

    Be sure to check out the runework on the face (by clicking the product picture to see the full-size version of the picture). Tiny details using the other Thassilonian runes (I think) introduced in Pathfinder #1.

    Truly a bargain at twice the price. I plan to wear this for every PFS game henceforth, especially with the Sihedron shirt.


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    ****( )


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    Disjointed and painful

    **( )( )( )

    While leading off well with an interesting boat encounter, the scenario seems to fall apart after that, with a mishmash plot and hokey mechanics that made the finale excruciating to play through.


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    Varisian flavor to the max

    *****

    I've run this scenario three or four times and each time is bliss. Each area is infused with flavor, challenging traps or enemies, and an exquisite environment.


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