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Rating based on first impressions - full review to come.


Rating based on first impressions - full review to come.


A disjointed, incoherent mess


Revising my initial review now that I've run this volume. The premise for the AP itself is extremely solid, but this entire first book feels like filler while you're waiting to get to the good stuff. I simply do not vibe with Ron Lundeen's writing style of throwing in a bunch of encounters that have nothing to do with each other.

A captivating trek through southern Geb


This is my favorite book of the Blood Lords AP, and I've found all the negative responses to it very interesting. My conclusion is this: if your PCs or you as a GM are very plot-focused, you're probably not going to have a good time. Does it do much to advance the overall story of Blood Lords? No. Does it provide a plethora of interesting NPCs and open-ended roleplaying opportunities? Absolutely.

For groups that are more concerned with the destination than the journey, I can understand why this volume might be tedious. But for my group, who cares way more about vibes than plot, this book was a rollicking good time.

EDIT: Unfortunately, I have to revise this review after running the book. My players did feel like it was a lot of filler that didn't have enough connective tissue with the rest of the AP. They hated Taviah coming back. They also thought the dollhouse was incredibly out of place and unnecessary.

Still, we had a lot of fun with the book! I think the book's issues are more attributable to the development of the adventure path as a whole rather than Jarzabski's writing. It's a strong adventure on its own, but weak in the context of the greater story.

All Filler, No Killer


As much as I love books 1 and 3 of Outlaws of Alkenstar, the vast majority of this book is a tedious slog. The research subsystem is used to quite uninteresting effect. I absolutely HATE the way chapter 2 is written as a dozen or so linear "events" - it feels railroad-y in the worst way. Chapters 2 and 3 ultimately end up being totally irrelevant to the plot of the overall AP. I hate plot points that take the agency entirely out of the players' control. The Cradle of Quartz map itself is also utterly devoid of any interesting detail. And chapter 4 continues the string of bizarrely high numbered events. I just... really hope the huge mistakes here aren't repeated in the future.

Too combat-heavy, but still good


A bit more combat-heavy than I was hoping for after the point in the adventure path when the PCs become Blood Lords themselves. But the investigations, locations, and enemies are still fun, and there are plenty of unique NPCs to interact with. I love the way that Geb himself is written.

The final chapter feels a bit convoluted, with a public challenge of a death match against a Blood Lord being a big leap to make in the story, and something I don't see a lot of PCs being especially keen to do. It's very railroad-y of a solution, and I wish there was some way to find a non-violent alternative.

The heroes don't feel like Blood Lords


As other reviewers have stated, most of the page space in this book is taken up by dungeon room descriptions and creature statblocks. It seems like a well-designed dungeon, but there isn't much meat on the bones here.

Furthermore, the work that the PCs are doing in this volume doesn't feel like the work of government officials. It feels like standard adventurer stuff. For an adventure path so concerned with the reputation system, there isn't much of the rubbing shoulders with fellow elites that I would expect.

Overall, just kind of misses the mark.

A variety of high-level content


It can be very hard for such a long story to stick the landing, with Agents of Edgewatch and Strength of Thousands ending with a bit of a letdown. But this volume seems to have done it!

The trip to the Boneyard looks like an absolute blast. Chapter 2 is a bit fetch quest-y, but in a fun way. And the final dungeon is short and sweet.

My only complaint - and it's a fairly minor one - is that the final villain isn't given much characterization. I would have liked to get more guidance on how to roleplay him in what should be an epic final confrontation. Neither his personality nor motivations are touched on as much as I would like.

Well-written mystery with a distinct locale


When I first read this volume several months ago, I was fairly underwhelmed. Now, having run it myself, I have to admit I judged it far too harshly. This is a very fun introduction to Geb as a nation, with lots of fun NPCs to interact with and chances to delve right into what the country is all about. The investigation at the core of the volume does a good job dropping hints along the way without making anything too obvious, as well as setting up the long-term plot of the AP.

My only gripe is that some plot threads are set up with explicitly no conclusion, such as the pool of viscera in the manor’s basement and the lower floors of the bank. I appreciate the opportunity for GMs to get creative there, but with an uncreative GM like myself, it can lead to players getting too interested in questions I haven’t come up with any good answers to.

Overall though, excellent start to an AP, and I’m looking forward to seeing what Mike Kimmel contributes in the future!

Extremely anime in the best way


I had my doubts about how a fighting tournament could be kept interesting over several sessions, but this book proved me wrong.

The first chapter uses the influence subsystem to the best of its capabilities, making the players really get to know the sponsors along with the city of Goka.

The second chapter is all combat, but contains enough interesting twists with each fight to keep things fresh. You'll definitely want to go into each fight with a VERY solid plan of how the enemy team will act though.

The last chapter deals with the ramifications of a kaiju attack. A KAIJU! It's as epic as it sounds. This is exactly what high-level play in a TTRPG should look like.

Pathfinder... IN SPACE!


I've taken one star off because the beginning of the book feels like unnecessary padding, but everything after that is GOLDEN. The lich cathedral, the temple of time, the Akitonian town, and the Mandibles of Fate are all exactly what high-level play in a TTRPG should look like. More of this, please!

Disappointing end to an otherwise excellent AP


I wrote a long review of this but the site ate it when I tried to post it.

To summarize:

Chapter 1 is alright but raises too many logical questions (i.e., how did no one find Koride or any of the missing students when they're literally on campus?)

Chapter 2 is okay in theory, but in practice is a huge tonal shift from the rest of the adventure path that came before it.

And Chapter 3 is a slog of never-ending combat, largely against the same wereant statblocks over and over again, culminating in a final fight that carries no emotional or dramatic weight.

My recommended way to run Strength of Thousands is to either end with book 5 or come up with your own adventure that takes the PCs to level 20.

My favorite volume of any AP ever


This book is amazing! All the NPCs and every location in the county of Meratt is so rich with detail. This book alone makes War for the Crown an all-time great adventure path.

Everything high-level play should be


James Case is a madman. This book is the shining example of what high-level play should look like. Everything is written to be strikingly cinematic, and deftly carries the weight of a truly epic conclusion to a long journey of adventuring.

A must-have for anyone playing or GMing in Golarion


Amazing in Concept, Flawed in Execution


I ran this book of the adventure path several months ago, but it’s left a sour taste in my mouth ever since and I need to articulate why. Chapter 1 has the PCs traveling to a city ruled by an evil child god, and the PCs must convince his advisors to change his mind about killing all outsiders to the city. There are several NPCs that need to be influenced, and all have detailed backstories. However, very little guidance is given as to their personalities, and in practice I found roleplaying them to be exceedingly difficult. As written, influencing each NPC requires several meetings with them, and it’s hard to find enough topics of conversation to fill those meetings. There’s also no guidance as to how each NPC slowly changes their mind over time, and how to convey that. If you have a group that loves political intrigue, they’re likely going to want to roleplay out each interaction with the NPCs, and it is a headache to try and do that.

Chapter 2 is great. It’s a quick little dungeon crawl with a plot point that alters the game world in a significant and satisfying way. I loved it!

The final chapter is another disappointment. The PCs go and find this hidden city that no one has ever been to and told the tale, but the excitement quickly wears off as you realize that once you get to the city, there’s… nothing to do there. And then you have to defend the city against all the people you just spent all of chapter 1 trying to befriend. But don’t worry, there’s a cheap memory-erasing plot device so none of them will remember it. The book ends with the PCs being told, “hey, is that guy who founded your school still on Mars? Wait, you didn’t know that?” which is the only bit of set-up you get for book 5.

This book has such interesting concepts that fall so far flat in actual play. I had a similar experience with Despair on Danger Island, and while I love Luis Loza’s writing when it comes to his incredible worldbuilding, I want him to improve upon providing ways for players to interact with those worlds.