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RPG Superstar 6 Season Star Voter. Pathfinder Companion, Maps, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber. Organized Play Member. 199 posts (1,311 including aliases). 12 reviews. No lists. No wishlists. 3 Organized Play characters. 1 alias.



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The Scavenged Codex - After the Apocalypse Never Tasted So Sweet

5/5

The Scavenged Codex is Volume 2 of the Legendary Planet AP, intended for PCs of level 5 to 8. There are also optional Mythic Tiers that can be provided to the PCs as well.

The Scavenged Codex is a wonderful Sword and Planet romp by veteran authors Mike Shel and RPG Superstar 2012 winner Mike Welham. Volume 2 picks up more or less where Volume 1 left off, with the PCs still “marooned” on the Gate-hub planet of Argose with no way back “home” – wherever “home” is.

Relstanna, the NPC rescued at the end of Volume 1 in the AP provides the setup for Volume 2. There is no gate on Argose which can reach the homeworld of the PCs, but Relstanna believes that a recently revived gate on Argose can provide access to a world where the Opus Aeterna, an ancient manual for gate recalibration and operation can be found. Just do a deal with the gangster who has sole access to the recently revived gate to pass through it, locate and recover the Opus Aeterna on the other side, and come on back to Argose with the gate manual. Relstanna and her allies should be able to handle the rest. How hard can it be?

Actually, on that front, the answer is that it probably can be a lot harder in many instances. The problem with CR balance in The Scavenged Codex is not huge, but it can be a real issue which arises because of the adventure’s spread out design. Like many APs which take places in a large and diverse number of areas with plenty of wilderness travel between zones, The Scavenged Codex features lots of small encounter maps (about 25 of them in total). The problem is, the vast majority of these maps feature only one or two hostile encounters on each battlemap and notionally, the region maps are separated by days of travel.

Accordingly, the maps are mini dungeons or encounter areas (a “vignette”, hereafter) which present a small selection of foes, environmental hazards and traps. So there is no need for the PCs to husband their resources carefully with such “vignette” encounter zones. If the PCs spam their spell and healing resources on the small number of foes presented in each these vignette encounter zones, they will blow most of these encounters with ease as there is no need for the PCs to reserve resources.

We have seen this problem in many Paizo APs before (Kingmaker was famous for it, but it is an issue which has become common to many Volume 2 AP installments in Paizo’s many published APs. ) There are a number of potential fixes for it – but the greatest underlying mischief is to recognize the problem for what it is before it causes issues.

The Scavenged Codex, like To Worlds Unknown, makes use of a large number of stat blocks available in other Paizo products to provide added depth to NPCs while keeping space requirements in the adventure to a minimum. Whether the resource to be consulted is the GameMastery Guide, NPC Codex, or Monster Codex, this is an excellent approach and should be used again. Big Thumbs Up.

There are, of course, custom NPC, race and monster stat blocks in The Scavenged Codex. This volume of the AP also uses monsters which appear in Green Ronin’s Advanced Bestiary as well as the Southlands Campaign Guide by Kobold Press, which was a nice departure from just falling back to the Tome of Horrors to change things up. If you do not have these books, the stat block are on d20PFSRD (hotlinked from within the PDF), and of course the stat blocks themselves are reproduced in full in the text of The Scavenged Codex.

The overall length of the adventure is in the “very long” category, with the adventure text proper ending on p. 71 of the book – instead of at about page 50 or so as with most Paizo AP products. This is one of the things I love most about the Legendary Planet AP. You get your money’s worth and then some.

One particularly noteworthy encounter involved a timed event with waves of Gnoll attackers pursuing a trade caravan at speed across the desert. The encounter sets the scene for the art on the front cover of The Scavenged Codex. Eleven pages of additional rules for running a vehicle combat/chase appear in the back matter of the AP to supplement the rules provided for in Ultimate Combat. This is a welcomed development. This encounter is sure to be the exciting centrepiece of Volume 2 of the LP AP, so taking the time to get this complicated fight / chase right is well worth your time.

The AP finishes off with some custom monsters, races, equipment as well as a brief Gazeteer on the Broken Baronies – the planet the PCs will be visiting in The Scavenged Codex, which channels 2 parts of Post –Apocalyptic Mel Gibsonesque Road Warrior mixed with 1 part of the monasteries featured in “The Name of the Rose”. It’s a cool vibe.

In terms of artwork and map art, this volume of the LP AP delivers in a manner similar to that of To Worlds Unknown. It’s not at the polished level of a Paizo product, but it is in full color and gets the job done.

Overall, The Scavenged Codex is a hella-fun interplanetary romp which should provide many sessions of entertaining play during the sweetest spot of Pathfinder’s level progression. Being able to show off the Broken Baronies to your players is one of the best reasons to run the Legendary Planet AP. Mike Shel and Mike Welham deliver a caravan full of goods here. You really do need to run or play this adventure. Recommended.

-Steel_Wind


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A Strong Beginning to a Great Adventure Path

4/5

To Worlds Unknown is the remarkably fun first full installment in the Legendary Planet AP from Legendary Games. Written by Jim Groves and developed by Neil Spicer, both the author and developer have long experience in writing Adventure Path installments for Paizo. With To Worlds Unknown, Groves and Spicer show off what they have learned over the years writing as freelancers for Paizo. The results are surprisingly good.

To Worlds Unknown begins with a classic in media res premise of the heroes finding themselves imprisoned and they have no idea where they are or why they are there. If the GM runs the players through the prequel adventure The Assimilation Strain, the PCs will have a somewhat better idea of perhaps how they got to wherever it is that they are – but they still won’t know what the hell is going on. As it turns out, this mystery is a significant part of the first part of the AP and its works quite well.

Of interest to those who may have played the first Starfinder Adventure Path Dead Suns, the premise and some of the encounters in the first part of To Worlds Unknown tie directly in to the events which form the backstory to Incident at Absalom Station, the first Volume of the Dead Suns AP. Put simply, the Drift Rock makes another appearance in an Adventure Path, this time as the off screen explanation for what triggers the PCs to wake up and break out of their cell in To Worlds Unknown.

In terms of the magic vs tech feel of the AP’s setting, this is left deliberately fuzzy by the author and developer. It certainly feels more magic, less tech in the Pathfinder version of the product; however, the scope of interpretation of just how much tech there is in the game world is left wide open to GM interpretation. Similarly, the appearance of firearms, which are quite limited in To Worlds Unknown, is also left open to GM interpretation and implementation. In this, Legendary Games is trying to be all things to all people. It doesn’t perfectly work – but it mostly does – and whatever way you choose to flavor your game with in terms of magic and tech, you will find a canvas in the LP AP volumes that will accommodate whatever shades of tech paint you want to slap upon it.

If there is any aspect of To Worlds Unknown that I found somewhat lacking, it is in the description and explanations of Zel-Argose, the city which appears in most of this installment of the LP AP and makes regular return appearances in subsequent volumes. This is the sort of city which craves more detail, more maps, more explanations of who lives there. Don’t get me wrong, the first volume does provide a 9 page gazeteer to the city of and its environs. It’s just not enough. I want 96 pages on the city, not 9. As the publisher admits, the feel to a “Sword and Planet” campaign has the planet upon which the players find themselves in a leading role within the AP. The planet in a Sword and Planet AP has character, oddities and differences which can overshadow many other aspects of the plot or any other NPC. I agree with this view. Which is why I craved more detail on Zel-Argose in this and subsequent volumes of the AP.

In terms of adventure flow, To Worlds Unknown begins on very tightly constrained rails. The PCs are all about escape. Ultimately, there is only one way out and so the first part of the AP will play on those tightly plotted rails. However, when the PCs reach Zel-Argose and get off the wagon that brought them to this grand alien city – the feeling of “Oh crap, What do we do now?” should be palpable at the table. For those who complain about a railroaded adventure path – that moment should dispel any anxiety you may have over the “railroad” nature of To Worlds Unknown.

Of course, there is a plot and the PCs will, at some point, choose to get back on the choo-choo and head off to their final destination with Volume 1’s BBEG. Still, by that time, it seems more like a desperately sought after railroad – a plot rails where the catch is “Can the PCs even find the tracks?”

A few comments about the design choices made by Legendary Games here which are worth pointing out and highlighting.

Firstly, the pacing is mostly very good.

Secondly, the use of NPCs and stat blocks is worthy of special mention and is repeated throughout the LP AP. Legendary Games makes repeated use of stat blocks from the Gamemastery Guide, the NPC Codex and even the Monster Codex to provide both bulk and a richer detail to the game world.

This is an excellent design choice, as To Worlds Unknown and later volumes of the LP AP are bulging with meaty game and NPC descriptions and crunchy information that you simply will not find in any Paizo AP product. Of course, to get the most out of them, you will need access to those books – but Legendary Games makes it easy for thise who don't have them. The stat blocks in the PDF version are hot linked to the D20PFSRD repository for that NPC stat block. Click the link in the PDF and the stat block is instantly on your screen. I use a VTT to run my games and so instead of using the D20PFSRD entry, I just called up the stat block in Herolab and used that version of the stat block to build my encounter files and ultimately place them on my map. Very handy.

From time to time, Legendary Games will change one or two aspects to the NPC stat block and its name is always changed. This approach made the underlying NPCs and monsters far more interesting and far more detailed than in any Paizo AP, bar none. BIG THUMBS UP for this design decision from Legendary Games. I hope Greg Vaughan et al uses the same approach again in the next Legendary Games AP, too.

Of course, not every stat block is a generic drawn from another product. There are lots of new custom monsters in To Worlds Unknown as well as races and templates. Point is, those new NPCs and monsters together with the brevity – and detail – which comes from using stat blocks in other Paizo products bring a massive feeling of magnificent depth to To Worlds Unknown.

The artwork and maps are much improved over those which appear in The Assimilation Strain. The maps are now much higher resolution as well. Once again, LG supplies a separate Map and Art Folio PDF and provides two copies of the maps, one with a room key/secret door displayed, the other version of the map without this detail. Annoyingly though, LG continues to keep the compass rose and large name of the map are on the player’s version of the map, which serves only to obscure detail when the map image is used in a VTT. My guess is that the developer and publisher just don’t have much first-hand experience in playing or GMing with a VTT, and so there is no intuitive appreciation within LG on how this was a lot opportunity for them to easily do more with less. Hopefully, they will get this figured out on a go forward basis.

The bottom line is that To Worlds Unknown is a fun and great AP installment which hits most of the right notes and will entertain you and your players. While I could not recommend The Assimilation Strain without reservation, I certainly can recommend To Worlds Unknown without reservation. The good news? It just gets better as the sequel to To Worlds Unknown, the Scavenged Codex is even better and a true gem of an adventure.

- Steel_Wind


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A solid Prequel to the LP AP featuring an Unforgettable Encounter

4/5

The Assimilation Strain is a 1st level module which serves two purposes:

Firstly, it is a generic 1st level adventure, playing up on aspects of Cthulhuessque terror in a typical pseudo medieval era small village.

Secondly, same as the First, except now the adventure requires slight modification to use it as the introductory scenario to Legendary Games’ Legendary Planet Adventure Path.
As for the adventure itself, I enjoyed it. It isn’t a great adventure, but it is a memorable one, largely due to one exceptionally creepy encounter in the opening session. The PCs come upon a middle aged woman at the top of a grain silo, dressed in an old, tight-fitting white dress with lace at the cuffs and collars. It’s a wedding dress. The woman who is singing to herself – sobbing to herself – dumps a ewer of liquid upon her head. The PCs gaze on in dawning horror as they realize that the liquid wasn’t water – it’s oil. The maddened woman tries to kindle a fire – her ghastly intentions now becoming clear….

There are a number of other encounters in the adventure which are entertaining, but there is nothing that comes as close to OMG!! as the above noted creeptastic encounter. You could play RPGs for 20, 30 or 40 years plus and you will still remember the above encounter.

In terms of product features, the art to The Assimilation Strain is generally iffy and the maps are similarly iffy. To their credit, Legendary Games does provide two version of the maps, one with a map key and the other without one; however, the great frustration is that the image sizes are pf relatively low resolution. I would have liked much higher resolution .jpg and .png files to work with. Legendary Games addresses this oversight in the balance of the LP AP – but the problem with the digital files for The Assimilation Strain is an issue.

The Elephant in the Room is that there are no explicit guidelines on how, exactly, to use the adventure as the lead in to Volume 1 of the Legendary Planet AP. Different GM’s will have different opinions on how best to do that. I arrived at a straight-forward solution for use in my campaign: I had the encounter with the BBEG result in what amounts to a TPK. The party members are all knocked out from a colorless odorless gas (or knocked unconscious by the BBEG’s melee attacks). During the initiative count as the combat round progresses, as a PC who failed his or her save is called upon in the initiative order, they “wake up” in their containment pod in a manner very similar to what Neo experiences when he “wakes up” from his containment pod in The Matrix. The waking in the pod scene is the entry point to Vol 1 of the LP AP. This waking up occurs at the same time as the rest of the party still playing The Assimilation Strain strive in vain in their combat encounter against the BBEG. In this way, the split timeline acts as a scene in which all of the PCs come to remember how they got to where they will all, ultimately, be going.

I enjoyed The Assimilation Strain, although in retrospect it is one of the weaker elements in the LP AP.That says more about the very high quality of the balance of the LP AP adventures than it says about The Assimilation Strain, which is still pretty good. You could skip The Assimilation Strain it if you wanted to; however, I think in terms of rooting the scenario in the PCs homeworld (especially if that is Golarion) it is a necessary introduction and grounding of your campaign before Vol 1 of the LP AP begins in earnest with To Worlds Unknown.

- Steel_Wind


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A New Take on 4E Skill Challenges for Pathfinder RPG

4/5

The new Social Combat Card Deck appears to be a rather straight-forward and at first blush, a satisfying mechanic for some variations in your game sessions when just role-playing it out or making a single "Diplomacy" roll seems WAY too easy. While the Social Combat Deck is no substitute for actual role-playing at the table, it can provide a narrative structure to guide players if you want to use it in that manner - more on that later.

For use in my Mummy's Mask AP campaign, the Social Combat Deck seems particularly well-suited for use in Vol 3 of the AP, Richard Pett's Shifting Sands - which involves a number of diplomacy and other social encounters to succeed in the first part of the adventure. For several encounters in Shifting Sands, the social combat deck may be just thing a GM is looking for.

Reduced to its bare bones, the Social Combat deck is the implementation of a 4E Skill Challenge for Pathfinder RPG. (Stay with me here, Skill Challenges in 4E were an extremely innovative, though as implemented, perhaps an ultimately flawed idea). The Social Combat deck consists of fours "suits" of 13 cards each, corresponding to four basic social skills: Bluff, Diplomacy, Intimidate and Sense Motive and each card in each of the corresponding suits lists a challenge with a corresponding DC check for the primary skill in that suit.

In addition to one of these four primary skill DCs, the skill checks required by each card have another option in addition/alternative to these four basic skills, e.g., Profession skills, Knowledge skills, Spellcraft and so forth. There is a reasonably wide variation here in the secondary challenge options -- and that's the **critically important element** of the deck's design as it ensures that a PC who is not a Charisma skill oriented character still has the hope of making a real contribution to the skill challenge (or at least, not failing). Fighter types can help in many challenges too; indeed, in some cases where intimidation is a real option, they may be the best suited PC for the task. As in many things: "it depends".

The GM decides how hard the challenge is (higher difficulty is a larger grid) and which suit(s) might apply to the encounter (Bluff/Diplomacy/Intimidate/Sense Motive). The GM then shuffles the cards and then lays out a 3x3, 4x4 or 5x5 grid, **face down**. The GM turns over the card in the upper left of the grid. The goal of the challenge is to get from the upper left card to the lower right card of the grid and then beat BOTH the challenges on that lower right card. When a challenge on a card is passed, the horizontal/vertically adjacent cards to that card are turned over, -- though NOT the diagonally adjacent cards. To reveal a card diagonally on the grid as well, both challenges must be passed by the same PC attempting the card. A failure on either challenge mean no cards are turned over in any direction, a FAILURE is noted - and play moves on to the next PC.

You can roll "social initiative" (D20 +CHA stat) to determine the order of play or just let the PCs choose who goes first and who goes next. The play moves in order through **every player at the table** until it comes back to the "top" of the initiative order. This means that the skill challenge may often fail do to the team's "weakest link"; this is a "deficiency by design". On the plus side, the silky smooth social Bard in the party has an advantage as that PC can attempt two challenges on the card to turn over a diagonal card.

So now you know how you "win" a card and move on through the grid, turning over cards. So how do you lose? Simple: If the players fail as many times as the grid is wide, they lose. A 3x3 grid allows only two failures and so forth. The player who is "up" chooses which skill is available on the board to try though. This does not mean that the PC must choose a "new" challenge. A player can still try a roll which will not result in turning over a new card. The overall strategy is not so much for every player to succeed in turning over a new card on that roll; rather, the aim is not to lose the social combat by failing a roll. When a PC fails by more than five, all DCs on ALL card increase by 2 so things can get ugly, fast, due to the weakest link. So the correct "strategy", if the GM allows choice instead of just a "social initiative" roll is to leave the weakest link to the last of the initiative order to maximize available opportunities so as to avoid a failure.

To what degree the GM wants to use the grid and challenges as inspiration for in play narrative is up to that GM. Some players are better at this aspect of a RPG than others. You don't need to abstract a roleplaying encounter to mere die rolls. It's up to the particular players. Like always -- you decide how you are going to play your game.

Similarly, a particularly adept NPC can add to the DCs of particular suits or individual skill rolls attempted. It's up to the GM to tweak as required by the circumstances.

OVERALL: I think the Social Combat Deck is a real improvement on the 4E skill challenge mechanic for Pathfinder RPG and I am looking forward to trying it out in my game.

- Steel_Wind


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Super-Premium Miniatures at a Premium Price

5/5

My ENWorld review on Pathfinder Battles: Rise of the Runelords is now available HERE.

Short strokes: With Pathfinder Battles: Rise of the Runelords, Wizkids has provided a large set of miniatures that offers excellent quality with some truly unique and dramatic figures. All of this is great and well appreciated. The problem with the set -- the only problem -- is the price tag which attaches to all of this.

I also made a Youtube unboxing video and review, which when it has finished uploading should be available HERE. (Warning, the video is lengthy at about 45 mins or so in duration.)


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Link to Official ENWorld Review

5/5

The ENWorld review of Rise of the Runelords Anniversary Edition is now up and can be found HERE. Short strokes: "This book stands at the pinnacle of the hobby games market. In terms of the hundreds of hours of epic entertainment it provides, value for the money, value-in-use at the table, available cross-product support, and sheer physical attractiveness, Rise of the Runelords Anniv. Ed. is the gold-medalist in every category possible by any reasonably objective criteria you choose to apply."

Full Review: HERE


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Link to Official ENWorld Review

5/5

I've posted my ENWorld review on Blood of Fiends HERE.


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5/5

The ENWorld Official Review of The Slumbering Tsar Saga may be found HERE.


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A Perfect Balance

5/5

I ran this tonight as part of an ongoing arc of The Devil We Know run for my local PFS game night. We've played them all in a row and will finish off with Pt IV next week.

Unlike some other posters here, I know how to use Some PDF Image Extractor and so I showed up with a large blown up map of Cassomir with its map key stripped off the map (along with blown up maps of all the other levels too), trimmed and taped together at 1"=1" scale.

Yes, the module should have provided this to you without having to jump through those hoops -- but it wasn't a big deal to extract the map file without the key and get it printed off for the players. An oversize map makes the puzzle aspect of the module play more smoothly, too. (Recommended: Extract the map using Some PDF Image Extractor, resample the dpi of the image to 300 in GIMP, resize and print off using legal size paper using the 2x2 poster print option. Carefully trim and tape together the 4 quadrants of the map for the best results.)

Together with the handouts, the whole puzzle experience in the module was great. Awesome, even. I would go so far as to say that this is the best puzzle based PFS scenario published as of this review. (Some may prefer the more tournament style mod in Rebel's Ransom - but I think Crypt of Fools is a better overall experience.)

I can well see how for some groups, the puzzle aspect of the module could go wrong and could prove to be ugly. It really does depend on the group you are running it for. But my PFS players were into it and they absolutely loved it.

Other Points

The Crazed Painter is an awesome NPC and was a lot of fun to roleplay.

The combats were actually nicely balanced for my party of 3 x 1st level and 2 x 2nd level PCs. Even still, the final boss was dangerous and downed one fighter and almost downed the Barbarian, too. It was touch and go in just the right amounts to be a perfect boss fight at low tier.

The maps were interesting and the combat they produced was varied. It might not have been perfect, but for a PFS module? Damned fine.

There were some connectivity issues which I filed down a bit and added some putty to do some bodywork and smooth over the connections between the modules. I think I did this reasonably well and my players seem pleased with the results.

There is no question in my mind that this module was the strongest in the four part Devil We Know arc and I will be VERY happy to run this module again. To date, easily the best PFS Scenario I've run or played in.

I did not parse the Chronicle sheet carefully for rewards and if Doug Doug has some problems with that, I won't disagree with him.

Still, the overall balance between RP, Puzzles and Combat was perfectly struck. We played the module to its conclusion in 3.5 hours and all the players were VERY pleased with the module and enjoyed it immensely.

I do object to the second Andor Faction mission which will tend to spoil the overall campaign arc feel to the module series if you allow it to have in-game effect. I permitted the faction mission to succeed and then advised the players of what was going on anyway as I think the overall player experience is more important. (They can divorce that information from their PC's minds if required). I was really not a fan of this faction mission. One of the worst I've seen outside a Season 0 mod in terms of its potential effect on the enjoyment of the overall story of the module.

End Result: Crypt of Fools is just a DAMNED fine module. I would award it only 4.5 stars if the ratings allowed me to do so, but voting low and going with 4 stars seemed to be a bit parsimonious, especially in light of some of the other reviews' too low scores for this great PFS scenario.


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Great Roleplaying but iffy Combat at the higher-tier

3/5

Sewer Dragons of Absalom

I ran this twice at Gencon 2011 and have mixed feelings on the module overall.

Both times that I ran Sewer Dragons, it was at the higher tier. In both cases, the players at my table were all experienced and nobody was playing a pre-gen. Most PCs were at level 7 (two were at level 8). If you have ever run a PFS scenario for level 7 at Gencon, you will know that not having a single pre-gen at the table is a rather rare occurrence. To have it happen twice in a row was very unusual. I think the module suffered for it, especially with a table of six.

The reason for this is straightforward: with a table of six experienced Pathfinders at level 7 (or 8), the combat throughout the module was not challenging at all. Worse, the combat was not terribly interesting, either. The sole exception to this was when a PC fell down the chute and found himself fighting a pair of Otyughs in the dark on his own until the rest of the party could come to his assistance. In both cases, the victims of the chute had high ACs, so they were easily able to stand against the pair of Otyughs without too much trouble. Had a relatively low AC character fallen down the chute instead, matters may well have gone otherwise.

Had the module been played at a higher tier with half the table playing pre-gens, it might be that the combat in the module might have had a very different feel. However, against a table of 6 experienced players who knew their level 7 characters’ capabilities well – the PCs just steamrolled through the opposition without even breaking a sweat.

On the plus side, the roleplaying elements in the module are uniformly excellent and these encounters are the greatest strength of the module. The first major encounter with Creeley Greeves may be solved by either combat or roleplaying and I thought this provided a nice balance to the module, overall. The surveillance part of the module which leads to the first roleplaying encounter at the Opera House with the King’s daughter, Yiddlepode, had a nice “vibe” to it and i would recommend that GMs play up on this “sneaky-Pete” element of the mod to provide the rogue a chance to shine. The roleplaying possibilities with the King and later Yiddlepode in the Epilogue were also very entertaining. Big thumbs up for these encounters as I love doing Kobold voices! The players clearly enjoyed all of these encounters.

My expectation is that the combat in the module will play much better at lower tier than it does at the higher tier. I would guess that the combat elements in the module were developed primarily with the lower tier in mind; Kobolds are obviously better foes for lower level characters. Many PFS scenarios play better at certain tiers than they do at others -- and my hope is that this module is no exception to that rule.

As I enjoyed the roleplaying aspects of the module so much, I will certainly run this module again for a lower tier group and update my review at that time. With a table of four or five PCs at level 3-4, this might prove to be a great module.

I am very encouraged by the comments from the other reviewers (so far) who have each suggested the combat in the module was deadly at lower tier. A great combat challenge with the great roleplaying opportunites the module already provides could EASILY make this a five-star module. As it stands, I can't go there (yet) based on the combat at higher-tier for all of the reasons stated above.

I would happily play one of Ogre's modules again and I look forward to the next chance to do so.

3.5 *** Stars
Reviewer: Steel_Wind


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A Must Have Product for all Homebrew GMs and Campaigns

5/5

Dungeons of Golarion is a rare product in the Campaign/Chronicles setting sourcebook line, in that it truly has something for every GM.

The book presents six encounter locations featuring dungeons, each with a sample map, an overall suggested larger layout for the dungeon complex, a detailed history of the site, and discussion of thematic monsters and encounters. The large overview maps of the "mega-dungeon" allow you as the GM to fill in those details by adding/plugging in your own dungeons/maps of your own design (or from another adventure product). The result is a hybrid of official and custom material -- all while keeping the adventure site on theme and in accordance with the overall "official layout" of the overall larger dungeon layout.

While the locations can be adapted for any homebrew campaign, the locations presented within Dungeons of Golarion will also be of use to those running many of Paizo's APs due to their locations and themes. Not to be left out, those who have home brewed campaigns featuring the City of Absalom (which lies at the hub of Pathfinder Society play), there is a dungeon locale near the Great City as well.

The product tries to walk a thin line between providing official material and inspiration for dungeons within Golarion, complete with maps and suggested layouts, while at the same time providing adventure hooks and oodles of elbow room for homebrew GMs to add adventures of their own choosing, unfettered by the design constraints of others.

For the most part, Dungeons of Golarion succeeds in achieving that goal and executes on the product theme almost flawlessly.

If you run a homebrew Pathfinder campaign, I urge you to run (not walk) -- but RUN -- to your local FLGS and purchase Dungeons of Golarion. Outside of the hardcovers published by Paizo and Golarion, this is the best soft cover non-AP product that Paizo has yet produced for Pathfinder GMs. I expect to see this product nominated for an Ennie in 2012.

Verdict: Pathfinder GMs should buy this 64 page book without hesitation, confident that at some point (or indeed, many points) in the future that the book will provide their campaigns with a box of variable size into which the GM may pour their own sand and just PLAY. The result is the best GM focussed, non-AP product that Paizo has yet released. You want this book - go buy it.

Rating: ****1/2 stars

Reviewer: Steel_Wind Co-Host of Chronicles: Pathfinder Podcast on d20 Radio


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Episode #011 of Chronicles: Pathfinder Podcast reviews RotFQ


Please note that Realm of the Fellnight Queen is the feature module reviewed in Episode #011 of Chronicles:Pathfinder Podcast. The podcast recommends some changes to the module, as well as one very significant restoration to the original module submission which, in the opinion of the podcast hosts, is absolutely vital to successfully running Realm of the Fellnight Queen.

In addition to the review, a Web-extra .pdf featuring the two Paizo Blog posts from March of 2010 and a never released random encounter table for the Fellnight Realm will be released a few days after the podcast on D20 Radio . The .pdf also features three new encounters and monsters in the basement of Queen Rhoswen's palace, complete with three new monsters.

The podcast may be downloaded here .


Best. Con Purchase. Evar.

5/5

Okay so here's the thing: there are a lot of purchases of GenCon related gear that you might make in your lifetime. Hats, T-Shirts, Coffee Mugs. Even a courier bag, hoodie or backpack.

I'm sure all of those items might be cool; handy even.

But none of them beat the sheer utility and convenience of the Gencon Badge holder. I've had mine for 7 years now. And it was totally worth the money at $10. Why? Because for five days of every year, the Gencon badge holder becomes the single most useful item in the world that you own. As a badge holder, it's flawless. In fact, just wearing one instantly shows that you are at least a mid-level Gencon attendee and deserving of some respect -- if not deference. The badge never twists around and it always faces the correct way. You never have to "show" your badge while wearing one of these. It works perfectly as a badge holder. Con staff never hassle you to "show your badge" when you are wearing one of these.

But that's not the real point. The real utility of the badge holder is its function as a wallet. August in Indy is hot and shorts tend not to be the best place to keep your money, hotel key card and other credit cards securely if you want to actually...KEEP those things. I spend enough money at Gencon without adding "lost money" to the reasons I go home with less of it. The pockets in a pair of shorts are often suspect and there is always a concern that your money is not remaining in your pocketses as you hastily reach for cash in a packed Exhibit Hall.

The Gencon Badge Holder solves all of this at a stroke. The badge holder is, in fact, a wallet that hangs around your neck. You can't lose it -- and your money is always where you know where it is. And it carries your badge in style.

They sell these things at the Con for $10. At $3.95, it's a steal. Totally useful, this minor piece of essential gaming gear will last you AT LEAST a decade of Gencons. That's 40 cents per Gencon. 8-10 cents per day of Gencon.

You can't buy a single damn thing as useful as this for 8 cents a day.

Get one.