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More fun than expected

4/5

Took us 2.5 hours to complete. After an initial read through I was kinda skeptical, but in play it turned out to be flexible in how the encounters could be resolved, also partly due to the available spells.

I don't think the way the deer encounter was designed (complex hazard) worked really well. It all just read like it should have been creatures instead. The consumables given out were also a bad choice: the barkskin potions actively harmed the PCs and because of the indirection, were more difficult to figure out as the GM.

It's good but does not reach We Be Goblins unfortunately.


It's a 4.5 page adventure

2/5

I don't understand what happened here. most of the pages are taken up by pregens and how to play them.

If you are looking to attract new players, maybe don't give them level 4 PCs that need 2 whole pages to explain each of them. If you are looking into this as a players somewhat familiar with DnD adjacent games, this adventure will probably take you an hour to complete (2 fights)


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Early Access Review

5/5

Will update this review once the full module is released. So far it's very promising but in parts a bit rough. The maps, music, art and journals are gorgeous as usual, but the Hex map of the Stolen Lands is still a bit rough around the edges since it's not obvious what's inside an hex without hovering over it. This becomes tricky when you are building your kingdom and you don't immediately know where your settlements or roads are.

* Does this include the Companion Guide? No, but it ships token images and art.
* Does this include all of the maps needed to run the game: No. You'll get all of the maps that have equivalents in the book, no maps included for all other encounters on the map (~25 up to Tors of Levenies)
* What's left to prep:
* Maps for Hex Encounters
* Playlists that play when activating scenes unless you want to micro manage that
* Dealing with fixes and updates as they come in which will reset scenes. That's especially problematic because as it is right now, it just imports too much and you can't control it in a granular fashion. If one player has a slower connection, you'll need to delete everything piece by piece after each update and only keep relevant content.

So why 5 stars? Is it the best module possible? No, but do we want to wait another year and pay more? As it is right now, I think it hits the perfect spot.


Useless for running campaigns

1/5

This book is pure fluff. If you want to know what how many rooms a typical house has or how to dress for a masquerade, then great, this book is for you.

For everyone else that wants to use this book at the table, the level of detail and topics are so detailed and so far removed from adventuring, that it causes more work for the GM to actually include this in their campaigns than it actually saves.

What's the punishment for murder in most regions? Well, need to look it up in the book instead of quickly making it up at the table. And basically everything in this book can be made up at the table using common sense.

It's also kind of superficial: topics like holidays aren't given enough pages and detail, because they also needed to fit in recipes and the latest fashion of how to dress for these occasions.

In addition, there is just too much introductory/filler text in this book. Most sections spend half a page iterating over painfully obvious things. Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide kinda things: traders gonna trade using trade stuff and the likes. Many page spreads that include art have description text like: "here's a chimney; these are for transporting smoke to the outside" and "fireplaces get hot"


Amazing adventure, s**@ty subsystems

4/5

This product has so many things that I think we need to split up the rating into two pieces: the adventure itself and the rules.

The adventure itself is an epic story, lots to explore and very easy to customize. Nothing more to say here, it's the best 2e adventure by a mile. 5 stars!

The rules consist of armies and kingdom management.

Armies at their base level are incredibly uninteresting: you engage the enemy, then roll to attack. There's no strategy, no choices, no relevant positioning. You can't even flank armies out of the box. Many buffs are hard to keep track, some are relative (Guarding against a single army for a +2 to AC). Yes, you can give them Tactics, but those don't add enough to make it fun or interesting.

The feats and actions themselves are riddled with mistakes which makes it very hard to figure out how it should actually work. Recovering and moving armies takes way too much time in kingdom turns (e.g. 1 turn to recover 1HP of 4-6, moving 5 armies together can work out to 2 arriving on time while 3 get lost on the way). Balancing and encounter difficulty is on the GM and often not straight forward, especially because healing isn't free as in the base game. I just can't see how this system is supposed to evoke any sort of fun, even if heavily house ruled. 1 Star!

Kingdom Management suffers from being riddled with mistakes, bad balance and hard to track bonuses:

* Some feats and activities give you "useless" status bonuses
* Way too many kingdom activities that barely do anything interesting.
* Leadership activities don't scale below/above 4 players
* Structure item bonuses are basically impossible to use at the table without automation. You'll be dealing with 30+ different modifiers that apply only for certain activities and are overridden by capital bonuses if these are higher and some activities just don't get any at all, most notably the companion ones
* Kingdom XP rules are designed in a way that it takes ~13! rounds (4x 3 hour sessions) to level from lv 1 to 2
* No opponent or pressure that keeps things interesting
* No interesting, strategic choices. The CRPG gave you projects that competed with keeping the kingdom under control, this system has none of that push your luck.

At least the kingdom events are fantastic. 3 Stars.

Overall, the systems lack fun and take way too much time. Can we like get an official community play-test if an AP ships 50+ pages of rules?


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Great but Pricy

4/5

This pack is priced at the upper end of what many people can afford plus you get no discount if you have the bestiaries. The quality is great, but my money is finite. I will stop buying physical and digital accessories in tandem and instead go for digital only if Paizo continues to push these kinds of prices.


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Untested, incomplete mess that requires lots of home brewing

2/5

Let me preface this with: Kingmaker is the best AP for 2e yet and the adventure content is fantastic. The rules parts however are rushed, untested and require hours of home brewing to fix them.

Weather: Each day you need to roll 3-4 D20s just to figure out if it's raining and if a weather event happens, making this one pretty bad to run at the table. Weather event rules are simple yet unclear in how sheltering should actually work. Higher level events have the possibility to kill your party in a wild fire and yet don't scale well with party level at all. This really should have been 4 roll tables: one for each season, each one requiring a single roll.

Camping: Literally unusable RAW. Tons of mistakes and you will roll a ton of random encounter checks and the camping activities as written will bog down the flow of the game. Regongar's activity of skipping low threat encounters kinda fixes it, yet nets way too much XP RAW. In an ideal world, every player could have chosen a single camping activity, much like an exploration action, using watches & co from the CRB. Furthermore, it doesn't really integrate well with the GMG Hexploration rules. The meal system is neat, but some dishes like Fish-On-A-Stick and Galt Ragout really make your life harder for no real benefit.

Companions: This is where this book has suffered the most from the Kickstarter format: of the 13 companions, only 7 have a quest and enough background story to run them. You will need to replay or watch the CRPG quests to figure out how they are even supposed to fit in. For a book that is literally called "Companion Guide" this is honestly a bit of an insult.

The good parts: the companion quests, if they are present, are great. Honestly, this book should have been just about the companions and their quests.

I really hope that Paizo will not run a Kickstarter again and instead focuses on high quality adventure content that doesn't require as much crunch so that developers have enough time to playtest it without burning out.

PS: I know it was made by Legendary Games, but let's be honest: this is a Paizo product where the freelance work was partly outsourced to Legendary Games.

Edit: After having run camping, weather and cooking for a couple of months, we completely got rid of them. We found that they distracted from the actual game play while adding nothing valuable on top.


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Mix of really great and some very bad

4/5

The quality of this book is very extreme: either it's superb or outright terrible. Personally, everything was well designed except for:

* Hexploration: very confusingly written, so few activities that everyone has to homebrew the other 50%
* Leadership: plain boring and even detrimental if you use lieutenants as cohorts
* Skill Points & Ability Score Variants: there's no benefit of using these except to shut up 1e diehards. Incredibly complicated mechanisms that play out almost exactly the same.


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Bad; really, really bad

1/5

Why sell a book about Golarion as a whole, when there's no information that is usable for any form of campaign? The maps have no interesting locations, the sections cover huge swaths of land, combining multiple countries, only giving you a faint idea of what you can run in a specific area. This book gives you a tiny bit of overview that you can get on Pathfinder Wiki or YouTube for free.

The included world map is great, but it has so few locations that it's unusable.

Skip this entirely and wait for the region specific books like the Mwangi Expanse, Absalom or Impossible Lands book. If you want something usable, go for the 1e Inner Sea World Guide.


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Unusable for campaigns

2/5

So this book gives you a quick glance over all of the deities, and that's about it. For that it's great. However when you pull out a lore book, you want to use it to create adventures, locations and NPCs.

For that, the presented lore is way too sparse. You get like 1 page of text for each major deity and some rarely usable spells. Similar to the Lost Omens World Guide, this book can be skipped. Just get Inner Sea Gods book from 1e.


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Amazing but launch plagued by horrible Paizo.com website issues

5/5

Let's get this out of the door: this is worth the asking price because this not only contains the adventure itself but also additional goodies like music, sounds, highly detailed and well integrated maps and Foundry Tutorials. If you can buy this for 10$ on top of your existing PDF, this is a must buy.

However, Paizo's website prevented me from buying this and I still wouldn't have bought it if I hadn't received it for free for GMing on Beginner Box Day. I know I am not the only one with these kinds of issues because Discord Pathfinder channels have been flooded with these questions and complaints over the past week:

* Almost impossible to find this product: If you use the tree navigation menu for Pathfinder, there's no VTT category. If you go through the tree menu for either "Pathfinder" or "Store" and click "Accessories", there's no VTT category. Instead you have to click on "Store" and then click on "Accessories" in the Breadcrumbs section. I am a software developer and I had to watch a freaking YouTube video to find this product. It's incomprehensible to me how after 3 years of COVID and massive amount of online play this stuff is not placed prominently and why anyone at Paizo wants to lose thousands of $ by making it impossible for mere mortals to buy it.

* (Solved!) Severe Issues with discounts: It's been almost a week now and the discount for buying the Beginner Box module still does not register, asking the full 25$ price. If you are launching a product you should use the momentum of the launch to actually get people to buy it. This is just one of the many Paizo website issues that actually causes them to lose lots of money, like the recurring session/cookie issues that break the website and prevent people from buying other products.

Please Paizo, get your s@%+ together and finally do something about your website. It's been years and you are losing customers and money.


Great

4/5

In general super happy with how this turned one out and I think the AP overall is tied with Abomination Vaults for the best 2e AP. Look at AV if you want dungeon crawls, Quest for the Frozen Flame if you want exploration.

The book starts out very strong with a lot of role play and story. It has many good ideas and epic moments like the ritual, the Frost Giant attack or the PCs finally becoming Mammoth Lords.

Chapter 2 is where the first cracks start to appear:

* Time doesn't line up at all: the book expects you to finish it mid December but the PCs technically start out at the end of January. The hex crawl is hard to gauge, making tension a big issue.
* The hexcrawl mostly uses random combat encounters with no story attached. I think only around 4 encounters have more meat to them, and getting to them is mostly luck because the hex map is so large.
* The story setup for leaving to fight the BBEG doesn't really work, you kinda need to insert your own reason why the PCs need abandon their tribe which is going to be attacked. The ideal fix here would have been to just let the PC who took the flame slowly succumb to a demonic possession.

Chapter 3 is great overall and worthy conclusion.

All in all not as good as book 2 or 1 but at least the ending and start were well done :)


The highlight of this AP

5/5

There's so much to love in this book: it's wide open, has interesting factions and areas and every small encounter tells a part of the bigger story. I especially loved the Worldwound themes that come up throughout the first and second chapter: curses, Mendevian crusaders and demons. The encounters were varied with a rough 50:50 split between combat and role play.

The hexploration design made it interesting for optimizing for movement speed and as a GM provided an easy way to insert your own encounters.

It took us 20 3-hour sessions to finish this book and we're playing fast: the usual group, from what I've heard, will probably finish this book after 30-40 sessions, an amazing value.

There were no obvious editing issues apart from Ivarsa having met with the dragon (just skip this, nothing changes), but you need book 3 to puzzle everything together. The whole "recruit local people into your group" also prevents the players from just overrunning Lyuba and killing everyone.

Even the final battle was done right in this book.


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No box

2/5

Organizing pawns is a giant pain, especially when they come in US letter format which is unobtainium in Europe. Shipping no box makes this even worse. Apart from that continues with the ridiculous low amount of often used pawns, making them unusable at the table. Jesus Christ Paizo, what your doing.


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No Box

2/5

Organizing pawns is a giant pain, especially when they come in US letter format which is unobtainium in Europe. Shipping no box makes this even worse. Apart from that continues with the ridiculous low amount of often used pawns, making them unusable at the table. Jesus Christ Paizo, what your doing.


Wow

5/5

As great as I hoped it would be. The encounters in the book are plentiful, varied and most of them can be solved in interesting ways (other than combat). Some of them are heartwarming. Most of the maps have interesting tactical terrain features. The pursuit creates a lot of tension and the story is more complex than expected.

This is the great, classic fantasy AP that I've been waiting for since the release of 2e. And the first book ends in a very climatic battle that is not just about killing the opponent.

The only downside here are the lackluster map designs and the butchered hexploration rules. While the maps are great with regards to tactics, they look amateurish and ugly. The hexploration rules will require me to make my players unlearn them, once we hit Kingmaker (if that one ever releases). The hexploration map is quite empty plus there isn't really a lot of time to explore. Not sure how much of a negative this is though, since it's mainly used for the pursuit.

TL;DR: buy this!


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Great ending to a pretty good campaign, albeit not perfect

4/5

The first chapter was great and went down very well with my players. Couldn't find anything to complain about here. It creates a sense of urgency, things are blowing up left and right and it feels very cinematic.

The second chapter just feels very empty and lacking. The players are infiltrating a prison and archive to collect more info on the background story, then deal with the dragon. It didn't really finish the whole Scarlet Triad, slaver BBEG build up from the previous 4 books and felt more like a rush to the finale. The backmatter on Promise has no quest hooks and is generally kinda sparse so it was hard to present the city in a more interesting light through quests. This would be the one thing that I would really recommend changing: spice it up, throw in some quests and encounters that show the dragon's harsh rule and add some Scarlet Triad encounters.

The last chapter was ok. You basically try to fight/solve 6 different encounters in the BBEGs area to open the final portal. Most of the encounters were really far fetched and it was hard to present the party with a good reason on why they are doing these encounters and there is no good way to really explain why they are structured like this. This chapter would have benefitted greatly from more pages that detail the whole portal network stuff using encounters. Stuff like: let the players figure out why things are borked, investigate some plane stuff, etc. Would haven been better than to just another couple fights at them. The boons from the ritual and quest buff rewards (the ones that weren't completely useless) made the last fight a cake walk unfortunately, so you might want to add some minions or tune them down.

TL;DR: good but needs GM changes to smooth it out.


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I really liked this book but it comes with several world building and mechanics

4/5

I really liked this book but it comes with several world building and mechanics issues.

Finderplain worked really well so chapter 1 was great. The adventure opens up in chapter 2, similarly to how book 4 did it so you will get a lot of playtime out of it. In general there's a lot of variety and interesting RP encounters. The final chapter adapts based on the PCs choices. All in all I think this book even surpases book 4.

However it required way more prep to make it work well: since the adventure is more loose, you will need to fill in the details. The backmatter however provides nothing usable: there's no real information about the Pactmasters, the law in the city, the guilds and locations. Instead you get some random information on aliens that should have gone into Starfinder and a couple few more elf gates that the PCs won't interact with. The adventure notes that you should instead buy the out of print "Dark Markets, A Guide to Katapesh" supplement. Don't get me wrong, the source book is great and IMHO absolutely required but come on, at least reprint it if you force people to use it.

On top of that some mechanics like the heist or the guild influence system aren't well described and will cost you a couple hours of figuring them out. I recommend to get the GMG and read up on the almost equally confusing infiltration rules since the mechanics seem to be almost identical.

If reading the Katapesh PDF is ok for you and you have a GMG you can consider this book to be 5 stars. Without it, it will cause you some headaches, therefore I'm rating it 4 stars.


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Very, very well done

5/5

The big thing about this book is the city of Kovlar and the Gazeteer: all locations are interesting and have good quest seeds included. The backstory is solid and NPCs are interesting.

Chapter 2 is non linear which means, players can take a couple of interesting jobs that lead them to discover how the baddies are involved. The first chapter leads to a nice build up and the last chapter is also flexible.

The worst part is probably the main villain: there's not that much fore shadowing and she is really not that interesting. Players generally don't know why they are going on a quest to defeat her, they just do it because they can go through the portal.


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Disappointing

2/5

Very linear. Prepare to fight slavers at every corner. Due to its linearity, my players basically skipped 1/4 of the adventure by doing something different.


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Has some pacing issues

3/5

After book 3, this is probably the worst book of the campaign which is mainly due to the following issues:

* The hexcrawl is good as a premise but the map is too empty. It should have been either half the size or should have included more encounters.
* The overall encounters in the Jungle are ok, there's nothing really interesting to be found
* Pacing is a bit off: the first chapter is role play, the last 2 are fights
* I found myself struggling to properly run the RP encounters in chapter 1. It wasn't overall clear how transparent the mechanics should be.
* The golem and terrain in the last chapter has TPK potential

The good parts:

* The Citadel rules are well done and my players had fun repairing and crafting the upgrades
* NPCs are very likable

PS: If you are going to run this, I recommend cutting travel short or populating the map with a lot of custom encounters. I'd also intersperse parts of chapter 1 with chapter 2.


Turned out pretty ok

3/5

You will run this as a very linear adventure. The Citadel is well done, the NPCs likable. Breachhill itself and its citizens are a bit boring and the descriptions in the back don't really lead to a lot of possible custom quests. Some say it has too much combat, but for my group it was fine. Overall an ok start.


Fantastic!

5/5

Book 4 was already pretty good but this book alone makes running this AP worth it. There's tension in every chapter, the story is great and even the main villain can't be defeated by using brute force.


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Might be the best book of this adventure path so far

4/5

So first of all I like that the book throws players directly into the action. It feels fresh and allows you to narrate their accomplishments until things get dicey. Infiltrating the alchemists convention is also done really well. The haunted house is fun and even the finale is great. If it wasn't for the absurd opening in chapter 2 and the very linear story, I would have rated this adventure 5 stars.

Chapter 2 starts out like this:

After the players arrest the main villain, you are told to keep him in an abandoned and *haunted* villa for 72 hours until the police stops arguing with itself because this guy is so important. Furthermore if you didn't make any allies you are on your own (Why? Isn't this guy really important?). The police informs you that the house was home to a murderer. Players can find out that the villa is haunted right at the very start (crit Occultism check). The police even warns you, that the cultists are going to try to free their leader so you better try to create barricades. Oh, and there's bad weather coming up.

Wat? How on earth can this setup even remotely work if your players aren't potatoes?

IMHO swap that sh*t out completely. The weather forces you to detain this guy in the nearest villa that is luckily abandoned. If you go on in this weather, chances are high that you'll be attacked by cultists. The weather and a more important lead keeps the police from sending reinforcments (this hints at the finale in chapter 3).


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Suffers from being a release product.

4/5

The bad parts that are all fixable:

* Combat encounters are a bit on the hard side. Look up the Encounter Building Guidelines in the Core Rulebook and tune down most of the severe encounters by removing monsters or making them weak
* Loot is tailored towards alchemist PCs and no useful runes are present. The shadow rune is useless so replace it with something else. Add the sidequests even if your PCs didn't take the appropriate backgrounds to get the +1 weapons. You probably need to throw in additional runes and loot
* Add a 1 month time limit to make time valuable and communicate it to the players

The rest is amazing:

* the sidequests are a neat idea and work well
* the storyline is connected well and works well to get players invested
* NPCs are likable
* the BBEG has a good back story and allows for different story outcomes
* the maps are really well done and allow for good tactical combat: disarm traps during combat, poisonous fumes that shift into different wind directions each turn, cages that can be locked/unlocked, enough chokes and cover, possible camp infiltration

If you fix the balancing issues, consider this is a 5 star adventure


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