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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.


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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 :)


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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.


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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.


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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.


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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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Meh, average at best

3/5

Spoilers ahead:

The basic storyline boils down to:

Town gets cursed by the Slithering curse which turns humans into Oozes. The spell originates from a bad guy at the Aspis Consortium that accidentally activated it and gets turned into an Ooze as well.

You investigate a bit to find out where the dungeon lies. Investigation includes arguing with a cleric why non humans add to the diversity of the city using victory points; the other encounters are a few skill challenges. Regardless of what you do you will get to the first dungeon.

You go through a dungeon to find out that a statue has been stolen.

You go to another dungeon in the Jungle to defeat a cult and fetch the statue.

You go through the first, slightly altered dungeon again to return the statue.

If you find that to be a compelling story, by all means this adventure is for you. The fights are ok to good. Every encounter has some thought put into it but the maps are rather boring and also not illustrated that well and don't allow for any other tactics than hit and run.

If you want to run this well you probably need to switch out the maps and connect the encounters better. The cult in chapter 2 should make its appearance beforehand and you should probably also weave the BBEG into the storyline before he gets turned into an Ooze


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Very, very good

5/5

This adventure flows really well and has lots of fun encounters and the art is amazing.

Chapter 1 starts with a murder mystery that is very different from Plaguestone: you are trying to find the guy that killed your boss by following leads and running into traps on the circus grounds. Depending on how fast they find her, she might ambush them from behind. The circus backstory is well done and bringing up the weird competition of their previous circus is the cherry on top.

Chapter 2 is very well done and the short encounters are fun albeit not very tactical. The demons are super weird and fun to run and I love the bar encounter.

Chapter 3 involves diving into a bigger dungeon that requires you to basically clear it out. Unless a PC took Gozreh as their deity, then they can use a short cut. The final fight is fantastic from a tactical perspective and there are lots of fights that can be moved into a different direction. You can even get a special animal companion.

The maps lack a bit of tactical depth but the last dungeon makes up for all of that. Many chances to climb and really cool extreme weather changes shake up the crawl. The succubus encounter suggest a few very funny ways to run it.

The circus rules are crunchy but I did not spot any obvious issues.

TL;DR: Really good first book 1, even better than AoA and Agents of Edgewatch. Can't find anything to really criticize.


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Way better than expected

4/5

First off: I don't have an issue with the whole police theme so I don't really care about playing police officers. The whole art design and tone of the book though paints the agents of edgewatch as a bunch of cringy do-gooders. Luckily that's easy to change so I won't let this affect my rating.

Spoilers Ahead!

The Bad:

The first chapter of the book is pretty mediocre: you'll get to walk around town and do a bunch of small tasks. The tavern one is great and foreshadows the final encounter in the book. The goblin encounter is fun. The rest is uninspiring, especially the foreshadowing for the main villain: making animals go wild is pretty low on the evil murder cult scale. Can't judge this without knowing the rest of the AP though.

Maps for the first chapter are mostly omitted with references to official flip mats and other products. This makes it look like they did this on purpose.

The Good:

Encounter and Map design is fantastic. The art is well done and there is plenty of room for tactical positioning and different movement on the maps. There are lots of traps and traps are also used in combat so that's great.

Loot is great so you won't need to adjust much there compared to Age of Ashes or Fall of Plaguestone.

The pair of main villains are designed really well. The main villain is a friendly, sadistic and always happy bastard that likes to torture people so this will be very fun to run since this will hit players in an unexpected way. Even better is his second in command who has a very tragic backstory and makes you empathize with her. However she's just bat s++~ crazy. All in all fantastic character design.

It's a railroad but you have more freedom in between encounters. The players can decide which side quest they want to tackle first.

The underground bar in chapter 3 is very well done and the tasks are fun. My only complaint here is that there are like ~8 floors to explore and you'll have enough clues for the next chapter after 3. That's kinda sad because you'll meet important and interesting NPCs for the next APs.

The festival descriptions in the back were kinda boring but each place has it's little issue and adventure hook in there. Gotta give them props here.

There's so much material and text crammed in here, so expect this to be a longer read than usual.

Verdict: Absolutely fantastic. You likely won't run this one straight out of the book but there's enough material in there to adjust it to your liking. Could have deserved a better chapter 1 with more oomph to get the PCs invested and therefore 4 instead of 5 stars.


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Included quantity useless for any game

3/5

If you want to use these in your games you need to buy at least 2 of these boxes. Ever ran an encounter with only 2 wolfs or a single werewolf? Because more is not included.

Apart from that there isn't a single colossal nor gargantuan pawn included (yeah I know, price, still sucks) so you'll have to come up with something on your own.


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Beware: misses ~33% of all monsters/NPCs

2/5

If you buy this to run AoA or simply want to use some of them to spice up your own games you need to check the contents of this pawn collection very carefully because a *lot* of monsters are simply missing in this collection.

If I had wanted to substitute tons of Pawns I could have just used generic figures/pawns as well so what's the point of buying this?