These are not maps. They are art poster folios. They are eye candy that utterly useless for gaming with. I would have to memorize all of Taldor to make them useful. My players ask me the names of places all the time. I feel like an idiot because I do not know and I don't have time to memorize them and so I point at the map and say, hey, here be monsters but I have no idea what else is here.
I suggest that you make actual maps and sell them as separate from this pack if you need to.
I am saddened and disappointed. The art quality is great but the lack of place names is utterly frustrating. It is almost like you think they are too precious to put names on. Just have someone do it with calligraphy. It would have been nice to have a real map of Taldor too. I just do not know why you do this. I used to look forward to getting maps of the areas of your world. Not anymore. In fact, real maps are one of the greatest features of game worlds. The place names inspire mystery and lead to stories.
I will never buy these things again and I own every single adventure path. PLease sell actual maps.
I enjoyed this adventure. The story arc has three distinct and interesting parts that allow for the characters to gather some experience and find their way to the hill giant fort. I think the fort itself is a real challenge as it involves a lot of moving parts, yet that can be managed with a good GM. I felt a little overwhelmed, but was able to make it work once the characters found an approach to it that made sense.
My only complaint is the cover art. As I said in my review of the first installment of this path, the art is over the top. Why hill giants need be deformed and so ugly I do not understand. They are humanoids not inbred freaks. Ogres already have the honor of being freakish on Galorian and the giantess on the front of this book is so bizarre looking that it makes it utterly improbable that she was leading anyone in some great vision of hers. I do not get why it needs to be this way. It is not inspiring, nor scary, just sort of freak show sad. It made for a far more pathetic looking enemy than my players thought they were dealing with. So I did to show it to them.
This adventure is fun to run and play in. My only complaint is the cover art in this series. Read on to see a much more detailed account of why I feel that way. But first the story.
The story and the town feel real and the characters and mystery are motivating. I alter things as I go that do not seem to fit and add a few as well. I always can tell a good adventure path when enough backstory has been done to allow my own imagination to run with it. I added several ideas that allowed the characters to become even more connected to the town and its future. They now care about the place and see it as their adopted home.
My only complaint is the cover art. Jesper Ejsing is an amazing artist, and technically is fantastic. I am not sure if it is the art director or Jasper but I literally have a hard time figuring out what is going on in these background action images for this series. The rest of Jasper's art on line is much more accessible visually.
I am not sure what Paizo is doing but this continues in the rest of the series as it goes on. It is very disappointing. I run a good art school and I am usually very impressed with Jasper's work, but although it is technically perfect as always, in this series, it is often visually just overcrowded and sometimes downright macabre or demented in the way the giants are presented. I do not get it. In so much of the rest of Jasper's work there is a subtle nobility and depth to the figures, as if they are being treated with respect. Strange as it sounds, it just feels like the images and the way they are being laid out do not respect the characters or enemies in the story line. I know, it sounds strange, but look at the rest of Jasper's work on line and you will see the difference. It has to do with how the people are portrayed and the way to is staged.
I would suggest a difference approach in the future. Too much "action" in a scene does not make it exciting, it just makes it busy and inaccessible. And too much ugly demented looking enemies is a real turn off. I mean, I always thought giants were humanoids, not inbred freak shows like the ogres.
The worst cover is the next one in the series with the hideous looking female hill giant chief. The next worst is the Ice tomb of the Giant Queen in which I literally cannot figure out what the hell is going on in the background other than some kind of upside-down battle. And because of the demented nature of the other giants on the other covers I did not even know the Queen was supposed to be undead. She just looks messed up.
I hope future covers are a little more tame or balanced in some fashion and less confusing. It seems a waste of Jasper's remarkable talent to assemble poorly balanced macabre works in what could have been inviting and inspiring images like almost everything else he has done.