Thevanan Quain

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber. FullStarFullStarFullStar Pathfinder Society GM. 2,447 posts (5,551 including aliases). 15 reviews. No lists. No wishlists. 8 Organized Play characters. 23 aliases.

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Reminds me of my favourite introductory adventures


"The Assimilation Strain" is a 1st-level adventure which serves as an optional introduction to the Legendary Planet Adventure Path.

It's a visually appealing product. The art is reminiscent of pulp sf books, with an added touch of early RPG products. I like the added touches of the starscape headers and otherworldly footers, along with the planetary symbol around the page numbers. Layout and font are attractive and easy to read. I was impressed that I only noticed one typo, considering how fast this was produced to get it out for Gen Con. And the extra pdf of all of the maps and art, including player-friendly versions of the maps, is a fantastic bonus.

Among my all-time favourite beginner adventures are "The Sinister Secret of Saltmarsh", "Against the Cult of the Reptile God", and "Burnt Offerings". While I don't believe "The Assimilation Strain" will supplant any of those, it's not far off. And it has a lot in common with those great adventures: a well-written investigative adventure with multiple layers of adversaries, taking place in a small town populated by three-dimensional NPC's.
I don't believe that I've been this excited to start a campaign since I picked up a book with Karzoug on the cover 8 years ago.

Well done, Legendary! I'm eagerly awaiting "To Worlds Unknown"!

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Greatly enjoyed by my players!

****( )

I just finished running this plug-in for my JR group, and they all said how much they enjoyed this mini-adventure (even though they got completely bamboozled by the mis-direct).
It's an extremely well-crafted little tale, and it's very nice to have a plug-in by the same (great) author as the surrounding AP chapter. The climactic combat is extemely tough, but will be one of those which is remembered fondly by the group as a highlight of the campaign. And the treasure at the end will make the side-trek even more worthwhile.
Physically, the product is appealing: art, maps, and layout are all impressive for this price. There is one full page piece of art which interrupts the flow of the related chapter of the adventure - a minor quibble.
My only hesitation in rating this 5 stars us that GM's should be aware that their groups may find the sf aspects jarring. So try to ensure your players don't mind a little high-quality peanut butter in their chocolate.

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Great for beginners, useful for veterans. A bit flawed physically.

***( )( )

These are a handy little reference, which provide updated single-source look-ups for generic rules. They are probably of most use to inexperienced players, but I still see them being extremely useful at veteran tables... even (or especially) those filled with rules lawyers.
I went thru the cards and divided the cards by whether or not I would want to use them in a session, and the stacks were pretty even - which is still pretty useful considering I've GM'ed for over 30 years. My "useful deck" includes much of the Combat chapter of the CRB (with cards for every Combat Maneuvre) and all of the skills. Notably absent were cards for conditions (already in the Condition Cards), and cards for magic item activation and creation.
I would probably have rated this 4 stars, but unfortunately about 30% of the cards in my deck are scratched or scraped - nothing illegible or unusable, but definitely noticable. Disappointing.

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Extremely good encounters, but structure could be improved

****( )

I divide my AP experience into 3 sections: Adventure, Supplements, and Layout/Art

The maps and art for this volume were terrific. The painting of Merisiel with the Mirror Men is a favourite of mine. I especially like the inside cover material, and use it in my campaign. 9/10

The majority of the supplemental material was outstanding. The articles on Milani and Winter Wolves were useful and interesting.
Most of the monsters in the bestiary were interesting. However, the Mirror Man was one of the most creative and creepy offerings I have seen in an AP in a long time. Kudos to the designer and artist.
Unfortunately, the fiction in this AP did not keep my interest.

I understand that the authors of this adventure and the prior one communicated and collaborated a great deal, and I think it is evident in the smooth transition between chapters, and the uniform handling of NPC's.
The adventure is filled with many fascinating encounters and adversaries: including the woodsman's wife, the gate guard, the goblin alchemist, the entirety of the Clocktower, and the pipers.
However, there were some things about the "storyboarding" of the adventure which seemed weak when my group played it. There is an extended journey at the beginning, and while some of the encounters are excellent, there are perhaps too many. Similarly, there is a huge number of encounters just inside the city gate. On the other hand, there is very little general information on the city as a whole. And as a specific example, the overgrown Merchant's Quarter lies directly between the gate and the safehouse, but there is no GM advice on how to handle the passage. While I know that there are many details on the city available in other products, I feel one or two encounters could have been cut to provide more information, or perhaps some encounters not tied to the gate, clocktower, or forest.
My players complained that Whitethrone provides the first opportunity in the AP for them to seriously upgrade their equipment, and the first encounter they have after that opportunity is with a foe that destroys weapons.
Overall, it was an engaging read and a fun group of sessions to run. 7/10

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Fun adventure, but requires GM caution/adjustment

****( )

I divide my AP experience into 3 sections: Adventure, Supplements, and Layout/Art

The layout and art for this volume (and this AP) were as brilliant as ever. I especially like the inside cover material, and use it in my campaign. 9/10

The supplemental material was very useful. I love the expanded NPC/treasure format, and the villages were well presented. The monsters were all useful, though none particularly stood out. Unfortunately, the fiction in this AP did not keep my interest. 6/10

I'm a fan of Russian folklore, so this adventure appeals to me thematically. As usual, Mr Spicer uses Fey liberally and well. The NPC's are engaging, with interesting back-stories (especially Nadya).
While the author is very good at setting up twist encounters, there may be too many in the first 2 books of this Path. One encounter which particularly irked my players was the ravens: there is a setup to hide to avoid them, but it is nearly impossible for an entire low-level party to make the necessary check, and therefore they only make the encounter more difficult for themselves.
The biggest problem I had with the adventure was that it seemed the difficulty of the environmental conditions were not truly taken into account. I feel that those reviewers who said this was too easy were probably handwaving the cold damage, difficult terrain, and wind/snow effects. It seemed many of the encounters failed to take them into account as well.
It may have improved things if there had been a note or side-bar suggesting GM's take the difficult conditions into account when assigning xp, because the cold did more damage than many of the encounters.
Overall, however, it is an engaging story which my group enjoyed playing. 7/10

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