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A fun exploration of another central city in Geb

5/5

THE GOOD:
—It does a nice job of emphasizing the militaristic feel of Yled, and gives tips on how to emphasize the ways in which Yled differs from the other cities in Geb. (The section on Yled in the Impossible Lands book is helpful here as well.)
—It mixes in some skill challenges with combat challenges (the playhouse bit looks especially fun), though it’s still a bit more combat heavy than I would have liked.
—It does set up several encounters that can be resolved without combat (though I would have liked to see even more of this, giving the PCs the option of using their impressive status as the blood lords to good effect).
—The final chapter, and the ultimate opponents the PCs face, feel appropriately epic for PCs of this level. Likewise, the game-world import of these opponents feels appropriately important; independently of the main plot, the PCs actions here feel like a Big Deal.

THE BAD:
—The “gathering rumors” section seemed like it could have been a bit more interesting.
—Not as much use of faction ratings as I would have liked. Likewise, not as much import put on the PCs status as Blood Lords as I would have liked; it would have been cool to have some encounters/skill challenges/political challenges which would only make sense for high-status characters like the PCs.

THE UGLY/PRETTY:
—The art hits Paizo’s usual standard for high quality. Some favorites: the art for Quinelle Quilltongue (p74), and the details in the Agorron maps (like the bones in the surrounding stone).


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Another Fantastic Addition to the Lost Omens Line

5/5

This book is fantastic. It introduces a number of great ancestries, with enough page count to make them rich and exciting options. It describes a number of fantastic adventuring locations with a radically different feel from anything else you'll find in the Inner Sea. It's great at offering inspiration for adventuring ideas; each of the three cities in Nex made me want to run a campaign based in that city.

And the art - I'm not a big art person in general, but the art in this book is AMAZING. Probably the most evocative, imagination-inspiring, and beautiful art I've seen in any Paizo book. (And that's a high bar!)

This book is neck-in-neck with the (phenomenal) Mwangi Expanse book for my favorite book in the Lost Omens line.


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Raising the stakes with some epic NPCs

5/5

The Good:
—A good mix of combat and non-combat tasks (though it leans a little heavier on the combat side than some of the other legs of this AP).
—Some epic NPCs for the players to interact with, giving this leg of the AP a nice high power-vibe.
—A couple fun combat set-ups that make use of the environment, like the arena fight. More of this, please!
—The back matter on Kabiri is great.
—The Blood Lord Machinations downtime activities in the back are a great way to help the players feel like political power players. I do wish, though, that this played a bit more of a role in the AP. Something like the kinds of rules in Hell’s Rebels or Strength of Thousands, where the players get tangible benefits for advancing to different positions with each faction.

The Bad:
—One of the key plot moves (involving a ship) to get the PCs back to the main plot is set up as what seems like an unlikely coincidence. It would be more satisfying if the story moved back to the main plot line in a more natural way.
—It seems strange that the powerful NPC from the last AP, who advocated for the PCs advancement, is nowhere to be found in this AP.

The Ugly/Pretty:
—Really beautiful maps on this one. Dripping with flavor, and mixing in a lot aesthetic details regarding the rooms into the maps themselves.


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A somewhat fragmented third book

3/5

I really liked the first two books of this AP, but this book was a little disappointing. It has some nice parts, but the plot tying it together felt a little shaky.

The Good:
—The Shadow Cottage seems like a nice creepy call-back to the previous leg of this AP.
—The town of Thornheath is great — it’s an unusual premise that makes perfect sense in Geb, and it has the promise for some great (and creepy) role-playing for the party.
—The back-matter on Holomog and Shadows is good.

The Bad:
—The first part of the AP guides the plot by having the party find an important note, but the existence and location of the note seems inconsistent with the events described in the book.
—The party is supposed to spend the first half of the adventure accompanied by Seldeg Bhedlis, who could easily handle all of the obstacles the party encounters without breaking a sweat. And the reasons provided for why Seldeg fails to do so seem strained. (Fortunately, there’s little reason for Seldeg to be present, so the GM can have him depart once he tells the PCs what to do.)
—Although the main antagonist of the book is an interesting character, their motivation for fighting the PCs at the end doesn’t make a lot of sense.

Spoiler:
(They demand that the PCs give them all of the magical items the party collects from a random place because they think that these items might be relevant to their project. But there doesn’t seem to be any reason to think that anything from this location would help with the antagonist’s project, or any reason why standard and clearly irrelevant equipment would be something they would think might help them with this project.)

—Much of the book after the first chapter seems fairly generic content that you could more or less transport into any AP. This is a shame, and misses out on highlighting the weirdness and coolness of adventuring in such an exotic locale.

The Ugly/Pretty:
—As usual, the maps and art are good.

Overall: 3.25/5 Stars


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Another fun leg in a horror-focused AP

5/5

The Good:
—The first chapter has a nice “old world fairy tale” vibe to it.
—Both Sallowshore and Pakged are creepy towns that emphasize (in different ways) that this adventures it taking place in Geb, a creepy nation of undead, not your typical fantasy-locale.
—A nice variety of encounters/set-ups, with a mix of dungeon-exploration, infiltration/skill-challenges, and social role-playing/skill-challenges.
—Some great back-matter in this one: both the article on Covens and the Adventure Toolbox offer some nifty plot hooks for GMs to use to build old-world fairly tale style adventures around.

The Bad:
—Not really bad, but it seems like the relationship between Tobias Highridge and Nepenthe should have had more of a role to play in the plot.

The Ugly/Pretty:
—The maps and art are up to Paizo’s usual high standards. (I particularly like the art for the Shroud.) Nothing to complain about here.


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A creepy module that encourages smart play

5/5

The good:
—A lot of encounter set-ups that explicitly encourage smart play — relying on hit-and-run tactics, luring mindless enemies into traps or away from where the party wants to go, employing environmental features to the player’s advantage. A great way to make combats more interesting and engaging.
—A lot of good “zombie movie” aesthetic fights in various places. Really helps to nail the mood.
—A lot of tasks, combats and interactions with NPCs which really highlight that the adventure isn’t taking place in your ordinary generic fantasy-land locale (Greyhawk, Waterdeep, Absalom, etc), but rather in Geb, where everything, even ordinary every-day stuff, is infused with a kind of twisted and horror-style vibe.
—The article on the city of Graydirge in back has lots of nice touches. The Death Ranches are a particularly nice touch — *really* creepy, but also utterly logical.

The bad:
—Not really “bad”, but a little disappointing this adventure didn’t make the “free archetype” option, restricted to undead archetypes, the default option. But easy enough for any GM to slap on.
—Also not “bad”, but the Greydirge bank chapter felt more like a standard dungeon crawl, and felt a little less immersive and different than most of the module. But it was fine.

The ugly/pretty:
—The cover looks a little “flat” and static, despite the entertaining scene it's depicting.
—The art and maps in the rest of the book are, as usual, very well-done. The page borders in particular are a wonderful gruesome addition that add a lot to the aesthetic feel of the book.

Overall, a great start to a creepy AP!


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Good Raw Materials With Weird Execution

3/5

Let me start by being clear - as with all of Paizo's stuff, this is a high-quality book. The book is beautiful, the art is high-quality, and so on. That said, there are a frustrating number of strange mistakes and errors/omissions that made it into the final version of this book.

A microcosm of this is the chapter in which the party boards and faces adventure on a flying clockwork ship. (Spoilers ahead.) A great set-up!

But then there are weird plot-points. Before the party can board the ship, they have to jump through hoops to convince a number of other people to also make the voyage. Why can't they just pay for the extra seats themselves? Well, we're told, the captain's ego requires that more people sign up(?!). And why can't they just hire some assistants to travel with them and pay for their seats?... Um... it's not clear.

Likewise, there seem to be mistakes in the set-up of the ship itself. It looks like there's a large stairwell that goes to the first-mate's room, and nowhere else. And that this is the only way in and out of the first-mate's room. Even though this room is right next to all of the others, and could be conveniently reached if there was a door to the main hallway, as there is with all the other rooms.

Likewise, there's a room with ballistas that plays an important role in one of the encounters... except the room is completely omitted from the description of the ship.

Anyway, with some patching up and a little work on the GM's side, there's a serviceable adventure here. But this requires more work of this type than one would like.


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Going Out With A Bang

5/5

This is a fun conclusion to the AP, and (in my view) the strongest book in the series. This book displays all of the usual Paizo strengths - beautiful art and maps, interesting NPCs, some cool new monsters. But this book also does a couple things particularly well.

First, it has some really cinematic and kick-ass scenes. Big, dramatic, block-buster feeling scenarios, like fighting above a giant cannon, trying desperately to fight off a horde of enemies swarming over the horizon.

Second, it does a nice job of providing lots of ways to get around encounters besides fighting through them, and in fights keeps a good mind to alternate "win" conditions - enemies who will surrender, or flee, or what have you, at a certain point.

Third, more than any other AP book to date, it sets up interesting combats - combats which build in the staggered arrival of enemies, combats with moving components, combats with battlefield effects that can really change the feel of the combat. Really fantastic work here. Well done!


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A Masterpiece

5/5

Dungeon-crawls aren’t really my thing. But this is the best dungeon-crawl style adventure I’ve seen.

It has an overarching plot driving the exploration, giving the adventurers a sense of purpose and urgency. It’s filled with sub-quests tied to the different factions in dungeon and to the people in the nearby town. It presents a number of entertaining NPCs and role-playing possibilities for the players to take advantage of. (Make sure the party has someone who can speak Undercommon and Aklo!) And it weaves in some mystery-solving, with a scattering of clues about the dungeon’s history (and about the main plot) well-distributed throughout.

It does a nice job of explicitly presenting the dungeon in a dynamic way, describing some of the likely movements of various occupants of the dungeon over time. It introduces “Environmental Cues” to the sidebar descriptions of each level, providing some nice aesthetic guidance for the GM to elaborate on. And unlike the early PF2 APs, it’s pitched at a more reasonable difficulty level.

But the most impressive feature of this dungeon is how organic and well put-together it is. Each room has a history, a reason for why it’s there. The occupants of each room make sense, and tie into the history, and the other occupants of the dungeon, in natural and organic ways. The levels are nicely integrated with each other. It all just makes sense.

I tend to dislike dungeon-crawl-style adventures because they often seem to consist of a bunch of random rooms, filled with random monsters; and if you’re lucky, the monsters on a level might be thematically related to each other, although the levels themselves rarely are. This adventure is the exact opposite of that. And even though dungeon-crawls aren’t my thing, it’s hard to deny that this one is a masterpiece.


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A lore-packed book full of undead-centered options

5/5


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An epic and atmospheric conclusion to the hexploration AP

5/5


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A solid follow-up to the hexploration AP, marred by a few plot holes

4/5


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A great intro to a hexploration-based AP

5/5


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A great addition to the Starfinder rules book line

5/5

The Good:

  • The new Precog class, which feels like a more martial-oriented version of the Witchwarper.
  • The Precog sub-classes are dripping with potential for intriguing character ideas. A time traveller trapped back in time? Someone stranded from a timeline with a different past? Someone with a deep connection to the Gap? Character ideas basically write themselves.
  • A number of interesting options for each class. Standouts include alternate class abilities for Technomancers that make them feel like a Pathfinder Witch, alternate class abilities for Solarians that allow them to focus on one mode, or focus on revelations instead of attacks, and the Magical Assassin alternate class feature for Operatives.
  • Prepared spellcasting alternate rules, for more flexible spellcasters!
  • The scaling cantrip alternate rules gives spell-casters a viable way to avoid trundling around loaded up with weapons. (Cantrip damage seems to be roughly what a level-1 Small Arms weapon would do.)
  • Several new cantrip spells—such as Adhere, Misfire, Psychokinetic Shove, and Stumble—that provide decent non-attack combat options for spellcasters who don’t want to ever wield a weapon.
  • A number of fun spells for clever/intrigue-focused players (e.g., Anchor, Broadcast Message, Duplicate Data, Summon Corpse, Tracking Mark).
  • Several new Wall spells!
  • A number of spells that give spellcasters ways to use their reactions (Uncanny Luck, Temporal Flash, Swap Initiative, Temporal Bullets, Usurp Spell, Restore Consumable, Dampen Spell).
  • A number of thematically awesome spells that just drip with flavor, like Soul Surge, Sub-zero Clutch, and Fluidity of Form.
  • Ritual magic, which adds some nifty options for PCs, but is especially fun as a tool for GMs to use when building a scenario.
  • Edicts and Anathema for deities that really make them “pop” in a way they hadn’t before, giving a much clearer sense for what these deities are like, and how superficially similar deities (e.g., Desna and Weydan, or Eloritu and Ibra) differ from one another.
  • Some interesting lore about magic, including some helpful discussion of how magic-users are thought about treated in everyday life.

    The Bad:

  • Although the Witchwarper gets some new options, there isn’t anything that really addresses their relative weakness compared to the other spellcasters.
  • Although the discussion of the role of magic in everyday life is welcome, there sadly isn't anything as thorough as the discussion of the role of technology in the Tech Revolution book.

    The Pretty:

  • I like some pieces or art more than others (the art for Pharasma might be my favorite thing in this book, whereas the art for a couple of the other deities looks a little funny to my eye), but as always, the general quality of the art is great.


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    An Amazing AP for RP-focused groups

    5/5

    (This is a holistic review that’s been written for the AP as a whole, excepting the 6th book which has been delayed for shipping delays.)

    Although I love Paizo APs, there are certain features of them that have always felt a bit awkward .

    1. Most APs will bring the PCs from level 1-20 in a matter of months. It’s hard to square this with typical fictional narratives, where one becomes a mighty wizard, or the world’s best swordsman, over decades of study and experience.

    2. When it gets to higher level play, many APs at least partially fail to appropriately justify the higher-level challenges that the PCs face in a way that feels appropriately epic. (For one of the most glaring examples of this, the last book of Age of Ashes has the PCs dealing with level 19(!) city guards.)

    3. And pretty much every AP is written with the implicit assumption that the PCs will resolve most encounters violently, with enemies fighting to the death, and the PCs expected to wrack up an impressive body count along the way.

    In light of all of this, the Strength of Thousands AP feels like a breath of fresh air. Advancement takes place at a narratively satisfying rate. Years can pass between levels, and the players are doing things in the meantime that lend themselves to the fiction of advancement and improving their knowledge and magical abilities.

    The higher level books really “amp up” as the party gains levels. The first book *feels* like a book with challenges for students, the second and third books feel like books with challenges for competent teachers, and the fourth and fifth books are appropriately epic — books four and five have the PCs doing more epic things than many book six adventures of other APs.

    And the book assumes and incentivizes peaceful resolutions to a much broader range of encounters than any previous AP I can think of. And when violence is likely to occur, the books generally incentivize non-lethal approaches to dealing with enemies.

    Add to that a sea of interesting and detailed NPCs for the PCs to engage with, and this is a perfect AP for role-play focused groups, and groups that really enjoy digging into the downtime aspects of the game, and building lives for their characters that stretch beyond their martial prowess.

    The Mwangi Expanse was one of Paizo's best lore books. I’m grateful to see that it's been paired with one of Paizo’s best APs!


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    An Amazing AP for RP-focused groups

    5/5

    (This is a holistic review that’s been written for the AP as a whole, excepting the 6th book which has been delayed for shipping delays.)

    Although I love Paizo APs, there are certain features of them that have always felt a bit awkward .

    1. Most APs will bring the PCs from level 1-20 in a matter of months. It’s hard to square this with typical fictional narratives, where one becomes a mighty wizard, or the world’s best swordsman, over decades of study and experience.

    2. When it gets to higher level play, many APs at least partially fail to appropriately justify the higher-level challenges that the PCs face in a way that feels appropriately epic. (For one of the most glaring examples of this, the last book of Age of Ashes has the PCs dealing with level 19(!) city guards.)

    3. And pretty much every AP is written with the implicit assumption that the PCs will resolve most encounters violently, with enemies fighting to the death, and the PCs expected to wrack up an impressive body count along the way.

    In light of all of this, the Strength of Thousands AP feels like a breath of fresh air. Advancement takes place at a narratively satisfying rate. Years can pass between levels, and the players are doing things in the meantime that lend themselves to the fiction of advancement and improving their knowledge and magical abilities.

    The higher level books really “amp up” as the party gains levels. The first book *feels* like a book with challenges for students, the second and third books feel like books with challenges for competent teachers, and the fourth and fifth books are appropriately epic — books four and five have the PCs doing more epic things than many book six adventures of other APs.

    And the book assumes and incentivizes peaceful resolutions to a much broader range of encounters than any previous AP I can think of. And when violence is likely to occur, the books generally incentivize non-lethal approaches to dealing with enemies.

    Add to that a sea of interesting and detailed NPCs for the PCs to engage with, and this is a perfect AP for role-play focused groups, and groups that really enjoy digging into the downtime aspects of the game, and building lives for their characters that stretch beyond their martial prowess.

    The Mwangi Expanse was one of Paizo's best lore books. I’m grateful to see that it's been paired with one of Paizo’s best APs!


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    An Amazing AP for RP-focused groups

    5/5

    (This is a holistic review that’s been written for the AP as a whole, excepting the 6th book which has been delayed for shipping delays.)

    Although I love Paizo APs, there are certain features of them that have always felt a bit awkward .

    1. Most APs will bring the PCs from level 1-20 in a matter of months. It’s hard to square this with typical fictional narratives, where one becomes a mighty wizard, or the world’s best swordsman, over decades of study and experience.

    2. When it gets to higher level play, many APs at least partially fail to appropriately justify the higher-level challenges that the PCs face in a way that feels appropriately epic. (For one of the most glaring examples of this, the last book of Age of Ashes has the PCs dealing with level 19(!) city guards.)

    3. And pretty much every AP is written with the implicit assumption that the PCs will resolve most encounters violently, with enemies fighting to the death, and the PCs expected to wrack up an impressive body count along the way.

    In light of all of this, the Strength of Thousands AP feels like a breath of fresh air. Advancement takes place at a narratively satisfying rate. Years can pass between levels, and the players are doing things in the meantime that lend themselves to the fiction of advancement and improving their knowledge and magical abilities.

    The higher level books really “amp up” as the party gains levels. The first book *feels* like a book with challenges for students, the second and third books feel like books with challenges for competent teachers, and the fourth and fifth books are appropriately epic — books four and five have the PCs doing more epic things than many book six adventures of other APs.

    And the book assumes and incentivizes peaceful resolutions to a much broader range of encounters than any previous AP I can think of. And when violence is likely to occur, the books generally incentivize non-lethal approaches to dealing with enemies.

    Add to that a sea of interesting and detailed NPCs for the PCs to engage with, and this is a perfect AP for role-play focused groups, and groups that really enjoy digging into the downtime aspects of the game, and building lives for their characters that stretch beyond their martial prowess.

    The Mwangi Expanse was one of Paizo's best lore books. I’m grateful to see that it's been paired with one of Paizo’s best APs!


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    An Amazing AP for RP-focused groups

    5/5

    (This is a holistic review that’s been written for the AP as a whole, excepting the 6th book which has been delayed for shipping delays.)

    Although I love Paizo APs, there are certain features of them that have always felt a bit awkward .

    1. Most APs will bring the PCs from level 1-20 in a matter of months. It’s hard to square this with typical fictional narratives, where one becomes a mighty wizard, or the world’s best swordsman, over decades of study and experience.

    2. When it gets to higher level play, many APs at least partially fail to appropriately justify the higher-level challenges that the PCs face in a way that feels appropriately epic. (For one of the most glaring examples of this, the last book of Age of Ashes has the PCs dealing with level 19(!) city guards.)

    3. And pretty much every AP is written with the implicit assumption that the PCs will resolve most encounters violently, with enemies fighting to the death, and the PCs expected to wrack up an impressive body count along the way.

    In light of all of this, the Strength of Thousands AP feels like a breath of fresh air. Advancement takes place at a narratively satisfying rate. Years can pass between levels, and the players are doing things in the meantime that lend themselves to the fiction of advancement and improving their knowledge and magical abilities.

    The higher level books really “amp up” as the party gains levels. The first book *feels* like a book with challenges for students, the second and third books feel like books with challenges for competent teachers, and the fourth and fifth books are appropriately epic — books four and five have the PCs doing more epic things than many book six adventures of other APs.

    And the book assumes and incentivizes peaceful resolutions to a much broader range of encounters than any previous AP I can think of. And when violence is likely to occur, the books generally incentivize non-lethal approaches to dealing with enemies.

    Add to that a sea of interesting and detailed NPCs for the PCs to engage with, and this is a perfect AP for role-play focused groups, and groups that really enjoy digging into the downtime aspects of the game, and building lives for their characters that stretch beyond their martial prowess.

    The Mwangi Expanse was one of Paizo's best lore books. I’m grateful to see that it's been paired with one of Paizo’s best APs!


    Add Print Edition $24.99

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    An Amazing AP for RP-focused groups

    5/5

    (This is a holistic review that’s been written for the AP as a whole, excepting the 6th book which has been delayed for shipping delays.)

    Although I love Paizo APs, there are certain features of them that have always felt a bit awkward .

    1. Most APs will bring the PCs from level 1-20 in a matter of months. It’s hard to square this with typical fictional narratives, where one becomes a mighty wizard, or the world’s best swordsman, over decades of study and experience.

    2. When it gets to higher level play, many APs at least partially fail to appropriately justify the higher-level challenges that the PCs face in a way that feels appropriately epic. (For one of the most glaring examples of this, the last book of Age of Ashes has the PCs dealing with level 19(!) city guards.)

    3. And pretty much every AP is written with the implicit assumption that the PCs will resolve most encounters violently, with enemies fighting to the death, and the PCs expected to wrack up an impressive body count along the way.

    In light of all of this, the Strength of Thousands AP feels like a breath of fresh air. Advancement takes place at a narratively satisfying rate. Years can pass between levels, and the players are doing things in the meantime that lend themselves to the fiction of advancement and improving their knowledge and magical abilities.

    The higher level books really “amp up” as the party gains levels. The first book *feels* like a book with challenges for students, the second and third books feel like books with challenges for competent teachers, and the fourth and fifth books are appropriately epic — books four and five have the PCs doing more epic things than many book six adventures of other APs.

    And the book assumes and incentivizes peaceful resolutions to a much broader range of encounters than any previous AP I can think of. And when violence is likely to occur, the books generally incentivize non-lethal approaches to dealing with enemies.

    Add to that a sea of interesting and detailed NPCs for the PCs to engage with, and this is a perfect AP for role-play focused groups, and groups that really enjoy digging into the downtime aspects of the game, and building lives for their characters that stretch beyond their martial prowess.

    The Mwangi Expanse was one of Paizo's best lore books. I’m happy to see that it's been paired with one of Paizo’s best APs!


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    The best “short” Lost Omens book to date

    5/5

    I wasn’t very excited about this book. I thought it would probably be a mini-bestiary. Or, if we were lucky, something along the lines of the “monsters revisited” line, which are pretty great, but largely because they provide new angles to approach old classic monsters.

    What I didn’t expect was 20 sketches for home-brew APs. And that’s basically what this book is. Each monster is given some rich informative lore, brimming with potential adventure ideas, a juicy stat block, some epic items or player options that tie into the creature’s lore, and a sketch regarding the different kinds of adventuring opportunities the monster presents, for low-level, mid-level, and high-level campaigns. Each entry left me swimming with ideas, and wanting to run a home-brew campaign centered around the monster.

    A really amazing book. My favorite “short” Lost Omens book to date.


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    Steampunk Arrives!

    5/5

    This books makes a great addition to the PF2 rulebooks, setting up GMs and players who want to bring an element of steampunk and gun-fantasy into their games.

    Mechanically, there's a lot to like here. There are two new, well-balanced classes, the Inventor and Gunslinger, and several interesting archetypes.

    There are rules for a lot of new mundane equipment, with rules for new martial and advanced crossbows and firearms taking center-stage. As one would expect, these are immaculately well-balanced, providing interesting options, but nothing that overtakes, power-wise, pre-existing options. There are also a bevy of new combination weapons — melee and ranged weapons combined — though these seem a little underwhelming compared to existing options.

    Finally, there are lots of firearm accessories and magical firearms, which add interesting dimensions to play. And, my favorite new addition: stasian tech and clockwork gadgets! These are great additions to the game, both with respect to mechanical options, and flavor-wise. I hope we’ll see more of these in the future.

    There are also rules for a number of more niche facets of the game that you can ignore if they don't come up, but are immensely helpful to have on hand if they do: rules for Siege Weapons and Vehicles. Both will see their role in the appropriate kind of campaign.

    There’s also a lot of lore in this book, with about a quarter of this book being devoted to the role of firearms and technological advances in various places in Golarion, including some lore on Arcadia! I found some of this lore more enjoyable than others, but most of it’s very good, my favorite parts being those that shower GMs with plot-hooks, like the excellent section on Ustalav.

    All-in-all, a great addition to PF2. Here’s hoping we’ll get more books like this in the future!


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    An amazing book filled with juicy plot hooks and adventure locales

    5/5

    This is an amazing and hefty (300+ pages) book; as good as any book on RPG lore I've read. There are tons of great things about this book - amazing art, in-depth characterizations of different ancestries, including new zany ancestries like spider people and sentient crystalline orbs embedded in wood-golem-like bodies, a batch of intriguing new deities, a mini-bestiary with a slew of new creatures, and even a handful of local recipes.

    But my favorite part of this book is the "Geography" section, 140 pages of in-depth descriptions of different parts of the Mwangi expanse. This section is fantastic, and absolutely dripping with juicy plot hooks and adventuring locales. An ancient city with magical spires formed from chunks of ancient buildings magically stacked on top of each other and suspended in the air? A xenophobic city ruled by an undead child who is a sun god (for real - an actual god), whose temperament changes with the position of the sun each day? A secret city build to contain an ancient well that wafts turquoise ether and sinister whispers, which is guarded by an immensely powerful tree that’s watched over it for 10,000 years? Fantastic stuff.


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    A fitting conclusion to a masterful dungeon crawl

    5/5

    Given the high bar set by the first two books of this AP, I’ve been anxious about whether the third book would stand up by comparison. As it turns out, I needn’t have worried — the third book is just as well done as the first two, and leads the AP to a fitting conclusion.

    This book of the AP shares many of the strengths of the first two. It continues the pattern of providing “environmental cues” for each level, feels organic, has gorgeous art and maps, and plenty of appropriately creepy scenes for GMs who like that sort of thing to lean into.

    But let me highlight some of the particular strengths of this book. For one, this book does a great job of recreating the feel of an old-school open sandbox. For example, it throws in some encounters that the party is clearly supposed to run from or avoid — like a classic sandbox, the party shouldn’t be expecting to be able to kill absolutely everything they run into. And it offers a lot of different routes for the party to pursue — like an old school sandbox, there’s way more content here than one should expect the party to go through — giving the party real choice about what areas to explore and which to bypass.

    Another particular strength of this book is that it shifts the difficulty level to a more manageable level than the previous APs. There are a lot more “Low” difficulty encounters. There are a lot more encounters with lots of lower level enemies that give spellcasters an opportunity to shine. And the high difficulty encounters are generally paired with foreshadowing, environmental features, or timing which make these encounters more manageable.

    Finally, this book cranks up the pressure on the PCs a bit, time-wise, and really shines a spotlight on the main antagonist in a way that prevents them from just being an end boss who the party never interacts with until the final fight. (I’ll avoid saying more to keep this review relatively spoiler free.)

    All in all, an excellent conclusion to a masterful dungeon crawl.


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    A worthy successor to Ruins of Gauntlight

    5/5

    This book is a worthy successor to Ruins of Gauntlight, and shares many of the strengths of that book. It feels well put-together and organic, with each room having a history and a purpose that makes sense of why it, and its current occupants, are there. There are a number of sub-quests sprinkled throughout that tie to either NPCs in town or to the different factions in the vaults. And there are a number of fun role-playing opportunities, including one epic-looking confrontation that looks very fun to run, and an interesting moral dilemma.

    At a more meta-level, this book is even more of a sandbox than the previous book, leaving open the possibility that low-level PCs might run into encounters that are too difficult for them. But the book does a nice job of explicitly advising the GM to appropriately foreshadow the difficulty of encounters, and to let the players know that they should be ready to flee if they get in over their heads. The adventure also does a nice job of foreshadowing some of the more difficult encounters “from a distance”, giving smart players plenty of warning to not rush into those fights, and also provides non-violent ways of resolving some of the more difficult encounters.

    At the aesthetic level, the book continues to have gorgeous art and beautiful maps. And the encounters and area descriptions ramp up the creepy horror-vibe befitting of an AP called “Abomination Vaults”, complete with more “Environmental Cue” sidebars to help GMs with aesthetic guidance when describing different parts of the dungeon.

    These first two volumes put the Abomination Vaults in contention for the best megadungeon-style adventure in print. I'm left nervously waiting for the third book to come out to see if Paizo can stick the landing!


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    A Perfectly Executed Dungeon-Crawl

    5/5

    Dungeon-crawls aren’t really my thing. But this is the best dungeon-crawl style adventure I’ve seen.

    It has an overarching plot driving the exploration, giving the adventurers a sense of purpose and urgency. It’s filled with sub-quests tied to the different factions in dungeon and to the people in the nearby town (which is fleshed out in the backmatter). It presents a number of entertaining NPCs and role-playing possibilities for the players to take advantage of. (Make sure the party has someone who can speak Undercommon and Aklo!) And it weaves in some mystery-solving, with a scattering of clues about the dungeon’s history (and about the main plot) well-distributed throughout.

    It does a nice job of explicitly presenting the dungeon in a dynamic way, describing some of the likely movements of various occupants of the dungeon over time. It introduces “Environmental Cues” to the sidebar descriptions of each level, providing some nice aesthetic guidance for the GM to elaborate on. And unlike the early PF2 APs, it’s pitched at a more reasonable difficulty level.

    But the most impressive feature of this dungeon is how organic and well put-together it is. Each room has a history, a reason for why it’s there. The occupants of each room make sense, and tie into the history, and the other occupants of the dungeon, in natural and organic ways. The levels are nicely integrated with each other. It all just makes sense.

    I tend to dislike dungeon-crawl-style adventures because they often seem to consist of a bunch of random rooms, filled with random monsters; and if you’re lucky, the monsters on a level might be thematically related to each other, although the levels themselves rarely are. This adventure is the exact opposite of that. And even though dungeon-crawls aren’t my thing, it’s hard to deny that this one is a masterpiece.


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