The Merchant's Wake is an interesting scenario for social characters. Featuring an unique influence system, PCs will vie for the respect of several key merchants. Each merchant has their own interests, although alliances and rivalries among them also interplay to change how influencing one affects how your influence on the others plays out. The social aspect should be good for both players and GMs who enjoy roleplaying opportunities. Each NPC is given enough characterization to guide their actions and help the GM RP them. It is unlikely two groups will ever have the exact same experience during this part of the scenario.
The scenario also involves three fairly straightforward combat encounters, as well as a pseudo-chase-card bit as the PCs race to help a merchant out of a jam.
The social aspect of this scenario has me looking forward to running it for several groups at GenCon this year.
Excellent background material for the crusades, sage advice for dealing with demons, decent overview of beginning area and likely enemies to be faced, including some named enemies sure to make an appearance. Lots of goodies here, especially for those who haven't read every scrap of information already available about the Worldwound (read:likely players of this AP)
Nice artwork, without a single inappropriately skin-baring example.
Traits not only set up Mythic destinies, but also set up future encounters in the AP. (The intro to the campaign traits made this pretty clear.) Rather than skip/ignore these traits, my suggestion would be to create some campaign traits more in line with the usual power level of a trait with close tie-ins to the campaign and/or use the Mythic-based traits as a bonus trait (as in 3 not 2 traits) The PCs are going to be Mythic, an extra trait likely won't unbalance the campaign.
Suggestions for downtime and mass combat inclusion. Hint: build up your organizations in downtime and prepare them for mass combat special missions.
Seems to me that those crying "feels rushed" are being hypocritical considering how quickly they snapped this up and pushed out negative reviews. Wouldn't be surprised if they were among those begging to get it out "now, now, now!"
This module had lots of potential, but, for me, the layout and format made this module very difficult to run.
Positives: Interesting locale, wide range of choices for the PCs to explore, a wide variety of encounter types to challenge the players.
Negatives:#1 Layout. The encounters/areas were laid out in an order based on the map on the inside of the jacket. Very little rhyme or reason for the way they were laid out on the map. Then, add in the fact that there is a timeline (on page 11- 1/3 of the way though the book.) for the encounters that essentially goes A_B_K_J_I_G_E_C_L_H_I_F_M, and you have a lot of flipping back and forth. The Fort, which is labeled "A", is put in an Appendix in the back of the book (Map on inside front cover.)
In order to encounter, much less defeat, the King of Roses, the first "boss" of the adventure, the party must complete a "series" of sidequests in an 8 room dungeon. Many parties will fail this, due to the obtuse nature of the quests and the likely desire to just kill all these vicious little fae.
The fire seed is another. This "Immovable" floating time bomb is designed to scare/force the PCs into moving quickly to take down the story's ultimate villian, Lord Vardak. My players floated up to it, threw it in a handy haversack, then threw the haversack into the river far, far away from the fort. Problem solved. It was followed by a very forced/argumentative conversation, as the players felt they had completed their mission and had earned their rewards.
#3 Adventure Design Flaws-I felt the random encounters in the vale were simply too easy for 6th level characters. The encounters in the final "dungeon" were problematical.
The greater barghests had problems with narrow passages and doorways, plus the 2 that were to come to Vardak's aid couldn't leave their room without either using dimension door or having to save vs. the pit.