Jabbyr

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Goblin Squad Member. Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber. Organized Play Member. 48 posts. 15 reviews. No lists. No wishlists. 1 Organized Play character.



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Good mix of sandbox and combat

4/5

The overall plot of this adventure if straightforward: the PCs know that their main villain is hiding in a remote location; they need to find out where. The first step to get this information is to go check out the training camp of one of the baddie's generals, the giantess Skirkatla. Being the training ground for elite troops of an army, the village will need to be dealt with very carefully. If the PCs think they can just storm into this place and kill them all, they're in for a sad (and untimely) defeat. There is a much more interesting way: sabotage and deception.

The action is split in two very distinct sections. Part 1 is a sandbox, where the PCs keep undermining the troops' confidence and morale until they manage to disband the burgeoning army. Once they succeed, they will be able to proceed to part 2 and access the dungeon where the giantess general lives - or more accurately, dwells.

My rating: 4 stars. It's a pretty balanced module. The first half is very open and rewards player creativity. At the same time, it allows for a wide variety of strategies - including combat, if the characters are so inclined. The dungeon, on the other hand, is a more violent affair. Nonetheless, the creatures found inside are interesting, the theme is coherent throughout and it is atmospheric. The triple theme (giant/undead/cold) provides more resilience against well-prepared groups (unlike - for instance - undead-themed dungeons that may end up being too easy for clerics). This may be a blessing or a curse, depending on your kind of group but it's probably an even threat against just any kind of PC mix. I do like it. I only miss a bit more of social interaction in it. This module is one to try for sure.

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Good ideas, lacks execution

3/5

The choking Tower assumes that the PCs are looking for the remains of the deceased android Casandalee and all the information she had when she died. They are, after all, searching for the entity called "Unity" and they know that Casandalee knew a lot about Unity's defenses and that she ended her days in a starship under what now is the town of Iadenveigh.

The search for Casandalee in that location is doomed because somebody did that very same mission a few years before the PCs. A Furkas Xoud was able to penetrate the ship's defenses, recover Casandalee's body and bring it to his own place, a technological laboratory he liked to call "The Choking Tower". When the PCs find out all this stuff, rather than get discouraged, they are supposed to enter the tower, brave the ghostly spirit of Furkas Xoud, his crazy experiments and creatures and get Casandalee's information.

The plot is extremely linear, allowing the PCs very little in the way of deciding what the next step should be. If ever, as written, the whole adventure can be skipped. If the PCs are really after Unity - whose location is already known - they can just go ahead instead of derailing their own mission looking for Casandalee and her elusive brain database.

Once everything is said and done, the PCs will know the answers to six questions that Furkas Xoud asked Casandalee's android brain before she stopped functioning. The info is scarce, it just tells the PCs that they should look for Casandalee's neurocam being held somewhere else, which is - of course - next book's location. If this doesn't discourage the PCs, nothing will. The plot of the AP at this point starts to look like a Russian doll with inane mission that leads to another inane mission that leads to...

Actually, if you overlook the stupidity of the module's plot and the linear sequence of events, the adventure has many good things going for it. The trust-missions in the beginning are okay, especially the "find the spy", with all the investigation parts. The dungeon that leads to dungeon is pretty underwhelming but as dungeons go, they aren't bad at all. An old malfunctioning abandoned starship is a pretty cool locale. The tower is a more classic setup but the thematic labs are nice, especially the last section in the underground dungeon. Perhaps running everything as written could be tiresome but there are certainly many good ideas here.

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My rating: 3 stars. It's not a bad module. Actually, it has a lot of good ideas but they feel disconnected. The linearity of the plot and the Russian doll feel to it make this one to rewrite or skip.


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Brilliant piratical module

5/5

The main premise of the adventure is that the PCs are a gang of would-be pirates on their way to establish their (bad) reputation. They need to convince the pirate lord that they are good enough as to earn a letter of marque and eventually a seat in the pirate council. The whole module is a test of skill and wits to increase their station among pirates.

Overall, all the parts offer enough variation to keep the players engaged and excited. The author has done a good job. I think it's an entertaining mid-level adventure that will not disappoint.

My rating: 5 stars. It's an exciting module with short location-based dungeon maps, lots of social interaction and a good story to back it up. Two thumbs up.

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Good atmosphere but no trust points

4/5

The premise is simple. The PCs are old friends of professor Lorrimor, a researcher of dark magic. When they get word of the professor's death, they can't but attend to the good professor's funeral in Ravengro, a small little town in a remote location. His daughter Kendra is the only living relative and she hosts the party, with whom the characters will become well acquainted during these grieving days.

In the professor's will, he asks our heroes to deliver his most valuable books to the university of Lepidstadt but wait! this can wait for a month. During the month that the characters are stuck in Ravengro, they have the chance to read the old man's research journal and start investigating why and how their old friend died. It is during that investigation that they learn the grim history of the town's old jailhouse and the spirits that haunt it.

I find the logic of the story a bit flimsy. A friend of mine dies and he wants me to stay in town for a whole month? Who seriously expects a complete stranger (as good a friend as he can be) to drop his or her whole life and babysit his daughter for a month before embarking in a perilous journey just for old times' sake? If your players are moderately normal, they'll try to sneak out of the small town to start the mission straight away.

What I find most baffling is that the author felt the need to create a point reward system to encourage talking to the locals and establishing ties with the town. This comes off as weird because 1) The adventure does not take place interacting with locals (except perhaps the adventure hook, the daughter of the dead professor) and there's not a lot of downtime to allow this and 2) There aren't enough encounters to gather those 'trust' points.

Faced with a point system that forces the players to fail, what's the worst thing that could happen anyway? The punishments range from surcharges in shop prices to negative diplomacy bonuses to being chased by an angry mob (in the very worst case). Not too terrible as long as the score is positive. You have to wonder why they bothered creating such a system. I didn't like it much.

Most of the module is a great dungeon with a creepy horror mood looking for some ghosts and unraveling the backstory of the whole place. Really good, except for the glitches outlined above,

My rating: 4 stars. It’s a good adventure with a lot of character and atmosphere. Some minor things detract from it: a faulty trust point mechanic that needs to be fixed and pointless events that distract from the mission without adding anything in return.

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Sanctum of the rollfest (with lots of snakes)

2/5

This adventure picks up from the previous one: the party found an important NPC - Eando Kline, imprisoned by the serpentfolk. Eando supplies key information to continue the campaign: the serpentfolk high priest Vyr-Azul is planning to bring back the serpent god Ydersius, slain ages ago by an azlanti hero.

The moment of this restoration is near and the only chance to stop it is to first, get an über-weapon from the hidden jungle city they're already in. This weapon will allow them to access Ilmurea, the underground city where Vyr-Azul operates from. After this, they need to get an army to attack Ilmurea, enter the temple fortress known as the Sanctum of Ydersius and fight the high priest and the avatar of Ydersius before the serpent god has a definite shape and is still vulnerable.

The plot is super-linear with little space for creativity. The PCs need to get the McGuffin from a dungeon before moving on to the second dungeon.

The army part is a little deceiving. When one reads the summary for the first time, it looks like there is going to be some sort of army encounters à la Kingmaker or Wrath of the Righteous. Not so. The army-recruiting section is limited to talking to different factions or tribes the PCs have been exposed to previously in the campaign and trying to convince them to join their cause. So, a series of boring skill rolls: "Roll Diplomacy DC 35 five times and succeed at least three times" is not the most exciting of play moves. Repeat for every faction changing the skill used every time. Boooooring.

Do they end up using the army for anything even remotely fun? No... the armies are supposed to be fighting in the background while our heroes enter the fortress by themselves. I can't see why they added the army section, it brings nothing to the campaign.

Oh, yes... every faction they manage to recruit gives achievement points! These pointless things are used to change the difficulty of some early encounters in the fortress dungeon. This is the least exciting use for achievement points there ever was. So, if our heroes have a lot of armies fighting for them in the background, there are four morlocks in the entrance, instead of eight? Wow. Waste of space.

Once the PCs advance to Ilmurea, the armies are supposed to do their thing while our heroes attack the fortress. This is just a big dungeon split in two sections: the ground level and the dungeon below.

The first part is pretty uninteresting, some morlocks and a lot of serpentfolk in a pretty empty fortress. The entrance of the fortress is pretty mean-looking but other than that, lackluster. Also, the new creatures are just variants of big snakes.

The dungeon below is not much different but it gets very lethal: a marilith demon followed by a new serpent monster, followed by a super-serpentfolk fighter and then the final encounter with Vyr-Azul - a 16th level evil cleric serpentfolk with six attacks and a huge snake companion - followed by the avatar of Ydersius, a big powerful snake. This is the real final encounter, one full page of stats will keep the players entertained for a while.

It's not the boring layout of the fortress that keeps this flat, it's not even the monotony of serpent-themed encounters; it's the fact that the palace is a mere succession of combat after combat with little to no room for creativity - not in the way of social interaction or puzzles but neither in the way of battlefield tactics. It's just a plain ol' huge square room with a big ass monster to slay. Again and again. "Sanctum of the rollfest with lots of snakes", they should have called it.

My rating: 2 stars. This is a mindless dungeon crawl with nothing but combat. The serpent thing gets old after the 10th combat too.

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Great fun with lots of different play styles

5/5

This module has a little for everybody, I think it's very complete in that it allows for different styles of players to thrive. The main point of this adventure is that a neighboring kingdom's monarch becomes their enemy. King Irovetti begins hostilities against the PCs' country apparently with the idea of starting an invasion. The action revolves around countering the attacks from this enemy and eventually defeating him.

An awesome adventure like there are few. Exploration, dungeon-crawling, skill contests, social interaction and mass combat. I don't think there is a player that won't be able to find something to their liking here.

The main feature of this module is that the players set the pace most of the time. There is a definite plot here but it's up to the players to choose how and when to advance things. I believe this is one of the most complete modules ever put out by Paizo. Brilliant work by Jason Nelson. Bravo.

My rating: 5 stars. Great plot and good execution. I don't think any PC will be bored playing this one.

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Some neat ideas but it needs fixing

2/5

The premise of this adventure is straightforward. The energy source of major Arvanxi's mansion is an imprisoned pit fiend. An accident in the power plant's engine collapsed the whole building and might allow the demon to break loose. The PCs need to enter the dungeon below the ruins of the mansion and make sure the danger is contained.

I believe the intention of the authors was to create an atmosphere similar to an old nuclear plant about to explode. The module is hit and miss for me. Even though the idea is not terrible, the execution seems a bit rushed. The dungeon map doesn't quite make sense for a nuclear-ish plant and the motivations are sloppy to say the least. This one didn't quite make it for my taste.

Overall, a pretty average module. I wouldn't run it as is but I'd pick up a few ideas to add to my own campaign or enhance another one. The idea of the nuclear plant about to explode is really neat, though, so fixing the adventure is very tempting. The most obvious fix would be to get rid of the videogame section in-between the energy plant section and the final room. If you do this, you shorten the module for sure but then if you let the PCs start at a higher level, you can time it so that they fight the pit fiend with the right level. This might be a good place to put a mythic tier in your campaign, for instance. In any case, you probably will need to fix the motivation part of the adventure. As written, it's extremely weak.

My rating: 2 stars. I like the idea but the execution is lacking. This is one to skip.

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Osirian Gold

5/5

This is an interesting and well-written adventure. Even though there is a linearity to the plot, it allows for a lot of player decision and choice. In fact, one of the sections is a kingmaker-style hex exploration. Original, small dungeons with cool enemies, and a huge potential for role-playing make this one a winner. In my opinion, one of the best works from Richard Pett.

This is to me the quintessential RPG adventure: light dungeons with interesting combats, lots of role-playing, investigations and plenty of decision-making and choices. You can't ask any more than this. Outstanding, Richard.

Overall, a fun adventure with lots of player choices in an interesting locale. The only negative I can see is the same as kingmaker. The exploration part can be tedious for some groups that need to be led a bit more clearly. In this case, there is a clear objective - To find the tomb - so this is less of an issue but it could be a tad repetitive.

My rating: 5 stars. I loved the setting, the role-playing, the story and the possibilities that this adventure has to offer. Good job.

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Mass combat mythic goodness

4/5

The plot of this module is pretty straightforward: you have an army and need to take the city of Drezen and recover an artifact, the Sword of Valor (actually a battle standard, not a sword). That's it, as easy as it gets. There is an atmosphere of post-battle wasteland in the area, a feeling of chivalry and epic glory in the air. The crusade against the demons invading the worldwound is an ideal setting for paladins, knights and the such.

It's a pretty nice adventure with a mixture of linear plots and open choices. Some encounters look really difficult but the mythic rules enable some crazy stuff so I trust the authors on this. The final guy has three +16 attacks... but again, the PCs should be 9th level with 3 mythic tiers at that point.

This adventure assumes the use of two additional rulebooks in the Pathfinder Roleplaying game line on top of the core rulebook. If you are not using either the Mythic rules from "Mythic Adventures" or the mass combat rules from "Ultimate Campaign", you will need to retool the module quite heavily.

In my opinion, although the mythic rules are important, for the actual play, the use of the mass combat rules is more so. The reason being that there are quite a few army vs. army encounters. If you don't intend to use those rules, you will have to replace them for something more fitting and that will take time on your part. Something similar happens with the mythic rules. If you don't use them, the mythic-level encounters will be much tougher. The book suggests to use the fast advancement track in that case.

My rating: 4 stars. A couple of things detract from the overall score but it's a top-notch product. The rulebook dependence might be an issue for some potential buyers, though.

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Winter's coming?

4/5

This module starts somewhere in Taldor and its main plot arch is centered around a weather shift happening in the local area where the PCs happen to be.

In the middle of summer, patches of snow and ice start to appear around a particular forest. In the subsequent investigation, the PCs cross a portal to Irrisen in the north. In there, they will be chased by the winter witch's guards.

Eventually, they will need to fight back... this means locating the ice tower where the witch's man in charge lives and defeat him.

It's a very atmospheric module that uses the wintry weather as a very unique way to set the stage for the main plot lines. I like this module. I like the way the winter is thrown upon the unsuspecting PCs and catches them unprepared. I also like the fairy tale feeling of the strange land where you're not welcome, the bad guys are hunting you and you're not even sure why. I even like the ice tower, it makes for a fun dungeon with all the teleporting.

Not everything is positive, of course. I don't love the way the mission is dumped on to the PCs. Giving them the reward first before they actually complete the mission is risky so the author needed a way to force them to go on and prevent them from cheating. Enter the punishing side of the reward: the artifact penalizes the PCs if they stray from the mission. It is a very clunky way of setting up a mission. I believe there are better ways of handling this without threatening the players.

Also, splitting the forest part in two sections sounds repetitive. The way it's done, it's: following a trail, finding a cabin, defeating bad guys. Then, continuing the same trail, finding a camp site, defeating bad guys. I would have preferred to set up the first part as an investigation that gives clues to the second location. Oh, well.

My rating: 4 stars. I really like it but I'm missing a little more social interaction and options for the players. Even so, it's a very nice story in an evocative setting. Definitely one of the better ones from Paizo.

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Construct-themed dungeon crawl

3/5

This module is a huge dungeon. There is no way around that. If your group loves dungeon-crawling, they might enjoy playing through this material. Otherwise, choose a different adventure. This is heavy-duty high-level combat most of the time without a lot of social interaction and little in the way of traps.

From the story perspective, at certain times during their exploration, the PCs will be subjected to visions from the emperor's past which will gradually let them put the whole backstory together. On top of that, on the fourth level there is a small lantern artifact that while it illuminates the rooms of the palace, it shows a different reality in that same room: the past, the original intent of the room, etc. It's not a bad storytelling trick to pull, I like that.

From the game mechanics perspective, the palace is haunted by the undead spirit of the emperor. This means that the GM needs to keep track of how many "spirit" points the enemy has and spend them on unleashing stuff to the players, like traps - yes, traps. The spirit starts with 20 points and spends them on things to bother the players. This is unnecessarily complex. By the way, it's the same two traps all over the palace. By the third time trap A or trap B have appeared, the players will be sick of them. I didn't think that was a particularly fun way of setting traps but on the other hand, your group might enjoy recognizing them after the second time.

Another quirk of the palace and its inhabitants is that they are haunted in a peculiar way. They all have greater dispel magic, chain lightning, +4 to AC and a lot more abilities in a new "xin-haunted" template. In practical terms, this means that every other creature needs to have its bestiary stats adjusted. A lot of them are also "advanced" so good luck trying to figure out the stats for that "Xin-haunted advanced retriever" from room C3, with two crystal sliver traps - that's Trap B - right next to it. You're going to be flipping between four separate page locations in two different books. That doesn't sound like fun.

As for the dungeon, it's got four levels and it's very construct-themed. Lots of golems and stuff. It's not bad, although I don't like the fact that the rooms in level 4 are not physically connected; the PCs teleport between one room and the next. As a result, the map of each room is located in the map for levels 1, 3 or 5. What was the need for that? The DM will need to flip pages back and forth to see where the next room is. I don't understand that design decision.

Overall, the module is just a large dungeon site with few opportunities for role-playing. It is a solid dungeon-crawl, though, so if your group loves that style of playing, they'll probably enjoy this. Just do yourself a favor and pre-calculate those template-stacked stats or look for them online.

My rating: 3 stars. It's good for an old-style dungeon. It didn't wow me but it's solid. The needless complexity of some of the mechanics detracts from it, though.

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Piratical Excitement

5/5

This module has a lot of good things going for it. For one, its plotline feels very well integrated in the overall AP plot. This is a really positive change compared to others but it may also be due to the fact that this is one of the final modules and near the conclusion so things are unwrapping fast.

For a high-level module, it provides the PCs with a pretty decent amount of variation, choices and role-playing opportunities. The opening act with the Pirate Council is a great idea to set up the stage, meet fellow pirates and establish ties - positive and negative - with some of them.

The black tower has a very indiana-jonesque vibe to it that I find refreshing plus the surprise at the end is brilliant. The fleet combat is also interesting, as is the infiltration mission at the end, which can be tackled differently, allowing the group to create their own strategy. Overall, this is a brilliant adventure.

The (slight) negatives I see are the cheesy excuses behind each of the missions and the menu-like way of delivering it. "Go look for something over there, it might be cool but maybe not" is not the greatest reason to go to the island. "Go find a McGuffin, it might be good to have when you meet the villain" suffers from the same problem. Perhaps the author should have integrated those two missions better with the main plot.

My rating: 5 stars. This is a fun one to read and play.

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Pretty average dungeon module

2/5

Although "Forest of Spirits" has three distinct parts, the majority of the adventure happens in a pretty big dungeon. This is mostly a location-based module with a very linear plot. The dungeon is pretty extensive but it's very straightforward to walk: A then B, then C. In essence, it's a very long succession of rooms with no real crossroads with different choices. The good thing about this, of course, is that your PCs will never get lost in this dungeon.

I'm sorry to say that the whole module is not a great read and doesn't inspire me to run it. It's a huge dungeon with room after room full of the same enemies. If you're following the Jade Regent adventure path, this module has absolutely no relevance on the overall plot and can be skipped or replaced at will. The characters learn nothing new from the plot and whatever happens doesn't affect the flow of the campaign, even if the characters decide not to explore the pagoda.

The good: There are a couple of good ideas in there that I'd like to test out. The spirits remind me another one of Richard Pett's brilliant ideas from Skinsaw Murders: haunts. I think there is potential in them and I wouldn't mind seeing how they work in actual play. They can be designed so that they interact with encounters to make them more difficult or quirky. Off the top of my head, you could make a bad spirit that causes bad luck on the afflicted character - à la pugwampi - and that can only be removed once you kill a certain creature - something that bad luck makes more difficult! The skill contest festivals can make for interesting encounters if the characters have invested properly in skills. It also has the potential to bore fighters and some others to death. I'd use this one with caution.

The bad: It's a really long linear dungeon without choices and with similar copies of the same kind of creature. If that's your style, you'll love it. It's very old school: the monsters exist only to meet their end when the adventurers enter the room they live in. The whole thing is executed in many levels and each of them has a mini-boss. Oh and the last level has a big boss... really old school.

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Not quite broken

4/5

The module is well written with a strong werewolf theme throughout. That's probably its main strength and its main weakness. It's a strong point in that it gives the story a very cohesive storyline by first discovering that not all werewolves are bad (but some are!) and second that there are many different clans and it might be necessary to start an alliance with some of them. The low point is that it can be tiring for a group to be constantly killing the same kind of enemy with minimal variations. I can see how my group would get bored after a while. Another observation is that the enemies in the module are somewhat weak. Most of the encounters are CR6 to CR7 in the first part. In the latter sections, it can be up to CR9 - at a time when the PCs will have reached level 8 already. A normal party would not have a particularly difficult time going through this adventure so I'd consider this module as easy-ish. This can be made much worse if a ranger PC chooses humanoid (human) as their favored enemy, since their bonus will obliterate any werewolf enemy. The same thing goes if there is a cleric in the party, since all the undead encounters will be much easier. Having both a cleric and a human-hating ranger can be game over. Consider this before you even start.

Another negative point of the module is that the big enemy is always acting in the shadows. Nobody suspects who he is or even what his name is. Then, all of a sudden he appears and the PCs need to kill him off. There's no foreshadowing or even a mention to his name. That's a wasted opportunity as well, in my opinion.

Overall, it's a very solid module, dampened by the fact that the enemies are repetitive and the main enemy was dumped on to the players as a surprise.

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Perfect for roleplaying encounters

5/5

I recently bought them to use them in the most RP-heavy encounters in Red Hand of Doom and they worked wonders. In the town council where the PCs have to deal with 5-6 NPCs and convince each of them to take their position, these cards were just great. I guess you can make specific character voice traits, speeches or accents but this doesn't always work in the long run. With these, just show in your hand the picture of the character talking and the PCs will get a clearer idea of what's going on. I recommended them wholeheartedly.


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Plain Awesome

5/5

If your group is playing in Golarion you *need* this book. It details each one of the twenty major faiths in the game world, which is something all divine spellcasters need to know. Although there is some crunch, most of the book is fluff, which will help role-play any character and can prove vital especially to clerics but also to druids, monks and paladins. As usual, SKR delivers the goods. Clear writing and a lot of great ideas inside. Some typos here and there but not enough to keep you away from it. This is really a five-star product. Definitely recommended.


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