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Simply UnbeatableNick Wasko (RPG Superstar Season 9) —
As a disclaimer, I wrote the Adventure Card Game entry for this issue. While I appreciated the opportunity to experiment with ACG design, I predominantly play the Pathfinder RPG, so I'll be speaking mostly to the value of this installment's content for GMs and players. That being said, "valuable" is an egregious understatement when it comes to the material provided in Wayfinder #18.
For a game with a cultural and mechanical legacy as expansive as the Pathfinder RPG, one of the best compliments I can give a content writer is to immediately think, "How does this not already exist?" I was stunned how often this thought crossed my mind while reading this issue of Wayfinder. The most obvious examples arise from the Bestiary, which includes fairy tale and urban legend classics ranging from the Hidebehind to the Big Bad Wolf. Spells like fey road and liar's light seem like they should already be a core part of any fey spellcaster's arsenal, masterfully applying game mechanics to frequently-used fairy tale tropes. The authors clearly did their homework, and even hardcore Brothers Grimm traditionalists will find something to love in the pages of this issue.
This is not to say Wayfinder #18 spurns fresh ideas for the sake of nostalgia. The new content effortlessly expands the scope of the First World without ever feeling like it's gone too far. In the Bestiary, new spins on old favorites (e.g. the Gravestone Dryad and the Poppy Leshy) expand a GM's options while maintaining similar themes, while brand new monsters like the Tintargurill offer GMs tools for fitting supernatural fey into a realistic ecosystem without compromising the fantasy flavor. Archetypes allow spiritualists to be haunted by bogeymen, anti-paladins to draw power from First-World patrons rather than fiends, and so on, all providing fresh new rules to vex players while still fitting the mold of the fey to a T. Perhaps my favorite article in the whole installment is the Gerbie Corruption - never before have I considered a cartoonish adherence to nonviolence and whimsy so threatening, and yet I read it and thought, "Of course this should be a corruption! It makes perfect sense!"
Perhaps more than any Wayfinder to date, every page is oozing with flavor. The short adventure that opens the issue reads like it fell out of a Brothers Grimm volume, allowing players to bid for others' memories at the cost of the things that make them who they are (e.g. their eye color). The fiction is simultaneously frolicsome and horrifying, drawing the reader deeper and deeper into a wondrous tale that they know won't end with Happily Ever After.
Given how frequently fey pop up in Pathfinder games and Paizo adventures, every single GM (and likely several players) could enrich their game with the contents of this fanzine at a price that is simply unbeatable (namely, zero dollars). I cannot recommend Wayfinder #18 highly enough to anyone who has ever played, GMed, or even heard of a tabletop roleplaying game.
For Cutthroats and Kings AlikeNick Wasko (RPG Superstar Season 9) —
I submitted an article to Wayfinder #15, but it didn't make it into the final product. I was disappointed at first, but when I read the installment I realized why my entry didn't make the cut: the quality of this issue's content is some of the best I've seen in the series to date.
Although it's difficult to capture the diversity of the River Kingdoms in fewer than 80 pages, Wayfinder #15 avoids falling into the trap of becoming a fanzine focused exclusively on Daggermark, Tymon, or any of the area's noteworthy locales. Most of the material within applies to the entire region, ranging from the flora and fauna of the Sellen River to the Kingdoms' two unique faiths. Low-cost consumables, particularly poisons and alchemical equipment, make up most of the new items available, though PCs will also find archetypes and feats to help them survive in the rough-and-tumble province. Tons of descriptive content provides GMs with tools to make the River Kingdoms come alive, from anthems of the river folk to NPCs and destinations to flesh out the local way of life. The fiction within is engaging and heartbreaking, with many short-stories reminding readers why life in the lawless riverlands tends to be brutal and short.
Perhaps the best material, however, supplements the Kingmaker Adventure Path and other kingdom-building campaigns. One archetype will easily appeal to players hoping to conquer the Stolen Lands, and every side trek and sample encounter provides GMs with ways to freshen up the AP's exploration components. This issue is a must-have for anyone playing Kingmaker with experienced gamers, or for GMs re-running the campaign and hoping to shake things up.
I look forward to every installment of Wayfinder because the quality and ingenuity of Paizo's fan base never ceases to amaze me. Whether you already own issues 1-14 or you're just learning about the fanzine now, Wayfinder #15 will remind you just how much talent and brilliance the Pathfinder community can muster.
Pathfinder Society Scenario #7–14—Faithless and Forgotten, Part 1: Let Bygones Be (PFRPG) PDFPaizo Inc.
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Great Encounters, Somewhat DisjointedNick Wasko (RPG Superstar Season 9) —
Perspective: GMed this for a brawler 5, inquisitor 5, swashbuckler 2, warpriest 4, and witch 2. The group earned both prestige points as well as the bonus boon.
Overall: This scenario was a treat to run, and I expect even new GMs would not find it terribly difficult to make this adventure come alive. Encounter mechanics worked well and each individual piece of the scenario excelled at accomplishing its self-contained goals. However, the strained connections between scenes left us feeling that this scenario was juggling a few too many balls at one time. This is somewhat expected for the intro to a 3-part series. Trying to set the stage for a prolonged narrative while simultaneously creating an impactful, self-contained adventure is a tall order, and several first installments of 3-part scenarios suffer from the same problems I’ve outlined above. Still, the scenario was an enjoyable opportunity to explore unfamiliar territory.
Final verdict is 3.5 stars, rounded up to 4 because I know—and love—the overarching plot. I recommend saving this scenario until you can play all three parts in order; the trilogy is definitely greater than the sum of its parts (which are still pretty darn solid individually).