Pathfinder #9—Curse of the Crimson Throne Chapter 3: "Escape from Old Korvosa" (OGL)

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Chapter 9: "Escape from Old Korvosa"
by Richard Pett

Old Korvosa is under quarantine, a sprawling slum contained by roadblocks and guardposts manned by remorseless Hellknights and sinister plague doctors. While the rest of Korvosa stifles under an increasingly brutal martial law, the quarantined streets of Old Korvosa descend into true bedlam. Yet the one man who may hold the truth behind the perils that have brought Korvosa to its knees is lost inside the quarantine zone. Can he be rescued from the clutches of a new menace rising in the festering pits of Old Korvosa, and what secrets does he know that could justify the bounties for his death?

This volume of Pathfinder presents an in-depth exploration of the rakshasas of the world of Golarion and reveals details on one of the world’s most sinister networks of assassins, the Red Mantis.

For characters of 7th to 10th level.

Pathfinder is Paizo Publishing's 96-page, perfect-bound, full-color softcover Adventure Path book printed on high-quality paper that releases in a monthly volume. Each volume is brought to you by the same staff which brought you Dragon and Dungeon magazines for over five years. It contains an in-depth Adventure Path scenario, stats for about a half-dozen new monsters, and several support articles meant to give Game Masters additional material to expand their campaign. Because Pathfinder uses the Open Game License, it is 100% compatible with the world's most popular fantasy roleplaying game.

Note: This product is part of the Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscription.

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Escape From Old Korvosa

****( )

Warning: This review contains spoilers
Written from a GMs perspective
I ran this for 7 PCs
I ran the Pathfinder re-released version

Escape From Old Korvosa is another strong chapter in the Curse of the Crimson Throne Adventure Path. For my table, everything ran very smoothly and I was very close to giving this five stars. However, I held back from giving it a perfect score due to a few obvious flaws that I was able to avoid, but that could cause a lot of trouble for other game masters if they ran the book exactly as written.
First, let's talk about the positives. I've said it in past reviews, but I really love the world building and character development in the Curse of the Crimson Throne adventure path. The third book is no exception. By the time you reach "Escape From Old Korvosa" there are a ton of characters and plot threads. However, everything feels like it builds naturally and it seems like my players were able to follow along with no trouble. This book also felt like an important turning point in the plot, where things that were hinted at for two books, like Vencarlo's identity and Illeosa's true motives started to really pay off. The opening cut scene with the attempted assassination of the Queen was utterly fantastic. Despite there being heavy hints that the Queen was corrupt, the reveal of her truth strength felt appropriately shocking, especially for players who still weren't sure that she was anything more than a pawn.

Not only did this chapter do a great job building upon previous chapters, but the new characters that were introduced were also quite memorable. Pilts was just the right balance being a ridiculous figure, while still proving to be truly dangerous. Laori and Salvatore as morally gray allies made for interesting additions to the story. Neolandus, while not remarkably interesting in his own right, did provide a lot of good RP for characters who now found themselves tasked to rescuing and protecting such a high ranking political figure. Finally, Glorio Arkona and his whole manor stuck the right chord, that the PC's struggled to read and figure out how to hand. I have heard some other reviewers complain that they felt a little disappointed by the Arkona's arc ending here, since there was a lot of build up to them in the earlier books. I can see where those reviewers are coming from, as the GM is told about their involvements several times in the previous books. However, most of these are behind the scenes mentions that the PCs do not learn about, so for my players their introduction and conclusion didn't seem to leave anything lacking. The book also leaves open the possibility for the GM to have the Arkona's hound the PCs again should this feel like a loose end.

Another thing I liked a lot in Escape From Old Korvosa was the setting. The quarantined district allowed the PCs to stay within elements they were familiar with, like the riots and the plague, while allowing them to explore an area in more detail and deal with the consequences of that area's isolation. Exploring Old Korvosa temporarily separated them from the heavily marshaled mainland and put them an entirely lawless region. From an RP perspective in was interesting to see how this both freed them in some regards and constrained them in others.

Finally, I felt that this chapter had a good balance of both combat and RP. This was especially true as most of the book's event could be handled by both. They could try to take down Pilts or just negotiate with him. They could storm the Arkona manor or accept Glorio's meeting.

As far as negatives go, there was only one component that I outright did not like. Blood pig. On paper, it seemed like a funny mini game that did a great job highlighting how crude and inhumane Pilts and his crew had become in the absence of the law. However, in practice, the game did not work so well. My players (fortunately) only played for a few rounds, before one of them launched a surprise attack on Pilts. However, it was already becoming quite clear that all the turns and rolls were going to become tiresome. I think it would have been quite time consuming and dull to get through a whole game, let alone do a best of three like the campaign suggests. It's also worth mentioning that, if the PCs don't cooperate with the game and instead choose to fight, this becomes a very dangerous encounter. Pilt's mind affecting spells can all but remove PCs from the fight and greater invisibility makes him hard to bring down quickly, Jabbyr hits hard and there are a lot of mooks who crowd out the battlefield and make it hard for the PCs to go after the main two guys. This fight came very close to a TPK for my party and ended with Pilts getting away.

The last thing that needs to be talked about is the Vivified Labyrinth. This is the Arkona's underground labyrinth, where pulling switches causes sections of the dungeon to rotate. From what I have read, this dungeon was a negative experience for a lot of people. However, for my group in ran fairly smoothly and was a memorable and enjoyable experience. I credit the positive experience we had to two things. First, while researching this dungeon, I found a website with incredibly helpful information. First, the author pointed out something very important, that the rotating sections all rotate simultaneously, resulting in only four possible layouts. This is mentioned in the adventure itself, but is not made is obvious as it could be. The website also provides maps for all four of those layouts, which the adventure itself doesn't not provide and some additional advice, such as having Sivit stay in one place instead of move around the dungeon. The maps and the advice were incredibly helpful. The second thing that helped running the Vivified Labyrinth was that I look the time to draw out all four map on graph paper (the maps provided showed secret doors and pathways), then covered the different rooms with post it notes. Each time someone in the dungeon pulled a switch, I flipped to the next page. This allowed for the chaotic confused feel of the dungeon, while still giving the players something visual to latch on to. As a result, it seemed like my players were able to understand what was going on and avoid the confusion (and subsequent frustration) that this dungeon is certainly capable of causing. Still, while this dungeon was fun for my group, it required a lot of work for me as the GM and it could have been easier to run if the alternate maps were provided and things were explained a little more clearly. This seems like a bad oversight, considering that we ran through a re-released version of the campaign.

Complaints aside, this is still a strong chapter in a great adventure path. As long as the GM is willing to put some time and effort into planning the Vivified Labyrinth and is careful to not drag out Blood Pig if the players aren't enjoying it, you will most likely have a great time with this adventure.


Glorio Arkona is stupid !

***( )( )

I am on the fence with this volume.

On one side, I like the pig game, Laori Vaus character and the use of a galtan final blade.
The article on rakshasas give depth on creatures I had no interest before.

On the other side, the whole Arkona thing (and how Golio acts during this part of the story) is poorly handled for me.

Spoiler:
Glorio's cover is totally exposed when he sends the PCs in the labyrinth. It seems not enough subtle from a rakshasa leader, politically too risky. And honestly if he really wants to kill his sister, he can do it himself without involving anyone, especially not the PCs.
Futhermore, the idea of a "rotating dungeon" might seem nice on paper, but in practice I don't see how I can handle that in a game session.


Portuguese - Br

****( )

Como um todo Escape from Old Korvosa funciona apenas inserida no contexto de Curse of the Crimson Throne, mas ela possui elementos muito interessantes que podem ser explorados em outras campanhas (principalmente para quem gosta de mitologia hindu). Seu foco no enredo pode gerar problemas, mas eu recomendo que os mestres leiam a aventura e tirem suas próprias conclusões. De qualquer forma, tanto o artigo sobre os Rakshasas e sobre a Red Mantis valem a compra da edição e os monstros novos são bem diferentes e exóticos do que estamos acostumados como monstros de D&D. Recomendo bastante.


Decent

****( )

It had an enjoyable start and overall my players and I did have fun. The arkona palace was our least favorite part out of the entire AP for Curse of the Crimson Throne.


Another grand tome

****( )

It had its frustrating moments, such as the PCs getting chased out of town without even a hint as to what to do until the next book shows up... but that's minor at best. This book has some amazing characters in it, especially the vile Arkonas.

And there are the usual magnificent backup articles, with my favorite being the one covering rakshasas. And the Red Mantis? Naaasty.


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Dark Archive

Ok Rich I'm looking forward to a really great adventure from this. So can you give us any small disturbing details (minus the skybleeders).

Contributor

Pity is treason...

Liberty's Edge

I'm almost more interested in the article on the Red Mantis than the adventure itself. This is definitely one to look forward to.

Dark Archive

I'm looking forward to seeing what they did to Rakshasas and I'm looking forward to Rich's adventure. He always does great stuff. (Sorry Nic but you got to admit its true).

Liberty's Edge

Jeremy Mcgillan wrote:
I'm looking forward to seeing what they did to Rakshasas and I'm looking forward to Rich's adventure. He always does great stuff. (Sorry Nic but you got to admit its true).

Well, there's never anything BAD in a Pathfinder issue, it's alway just a matter of determining what your favorite thing is.

Contributor

I'm sure you'll like he Red Mantis, and hopefully you'll like the adventure too - you're absolutely right about Pathfinder, I've just seen #8 and it is really outstanding on so many fronts.

Contributor

Jeremy Mcgillan wrote:
I'm looking forward to seeing what they did to Rakshasas and I'm looking forward to Rich's adventure. He always does great stuff. (Sorry Nic but you got to admit its true).

Huzzah!

Don't apologise, he likes having his nose rubbed in it, it keeps him on his toes.

No Escape...

Dark Archive

Hey Rich any other nuggets?


Paizo Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Legends Subscriber; Pathfinder Tales Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

I like the title's similarity to a certain John Carpenter movie. :)

Contributor

Timespike wrote:
I'm almost more interested in the article on the Red Mantis than the adventure itself. This is definitely one to look forward to.

Please don't tell Louge, there'll be no living with him, not that I DO live with him and we're the same person or anything...damn

Contributor

Zaister wrote:
I like the title's similarity to a certain John Carpenter movie. :)

Hmm, you may have a point there.

Contributor

Jeremy Mcgillan wrote:

Hey Rich any other nuggets?

hmmm

Spoiler:

Nope:)

Contributor

Spoiler:

Only kidding - it's a tricky one to give too much away about really, think Escape from New York meets the French Revolution during the Black Death whilst perusing a Jeff Vandermeer Novel as rome burns and you're getting there.

It should run very fast paced and very unpredictably, everyone may well have a different take on this one at various stages and I hope it will translate into the most open-running adventure I've ever done for Paizo. Certainly I'm looking forward to seeing how it runs, as much as how it reads as the playtesting of segments of it ran very wildly.

A lot can happen in a short time in a bad place.

NO Escape...

Contributor

Spoiler:

Plus, I can categorically say that there are NO skybleeders or skybleeder-kith in this adventure.


Paizo Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Legends Subscriber; Pathfinder Tales Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Richard Pett wrote:
Zaister wrote:
I like the title's similarity to a certain John Carpenter movie. :)
Hmm, you may have a point there.

Ooh!

Silver Crusade

Richard Pett wrote:
Zaister wrote:
I like the title's similarity to a certain John Carpenter movie. :)
Hmm, you may have a point there.

I need to put a PC's eye out before we get to #9 then.

Contributor

the name's Pliskin...


But by the end of the adventure, call me Snake.

Silver Crusade

This is making me want a Big Trouble In Little China-inspired adventure, you know.

HINT HINT, he hinted. ;)

Contributor

Mikaze wrote:

This is making me want a Big Trouble In Little China-inspired adventure, you know.

HINT HINT, he hinted. ;)

Cool idea:)

James?!

Scarab Sages

Very brief skim of the pdf says this looks awesome. CotCT is really becoming something special, I'm itching to run it (we'll finally be starting mid-late May if RL doesn't catch up with us again). I'm in love with the Rakshasas already. Also BEST LOOKING BESTIARY EVER, is it just me or has the book yet again improved in terms of look? Though what on earth is going on with Laori Vaus picture? I mean I don't mind the old school anime look, and it kind of fits with the character, but it's so out of place amongst all the other artwork that it feels really jarring, hmm...

anyway, I'm mostly getting over-excited, now to get a giant mug of tea and curl up in front of the computer screen for a couple of hours reading and plotting...


After reading the entry for Achaekek, the Mantis God, I think it is time for the Thri-kreen to get a Pathfinder make-over.

And I do love the Rakshasa entry, the spirit of Dragon's Ecology articles just won't die.

The Exchange

the last adventure was really good. i hope this one will keep up to the high standrds rhis series already set to itself.

Liberty's Edge

Dark Psion wrote:
After reading the entry for Achaekek, the Mantis God, I think it is time for the Thri-kreen to get a Pathfinder make-over.

Oh, geez. Now THAT'S a scary thought! Thri-kreen red mantis assassins quad-wielding sawtooth sabers.

Dark Archive

Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

So far this is looking great. I have read through the pdf but I don't get too in depth until I get my copy. Still so far this is looking really good. Though at the moment I wish there was a little more "time" for the PC's and Vencarlo to interact before the other rescue. (I will have to make time for that.) Great job as always.


I liked this module, its got a lot going for it. One thing I'd like to see that was missing in this one and past mods, is a bit more info, very brief, on some of the staff/guards at the major locations. At a minimum, just list their classes and races. In this mod, that applies to the Arkonas Palace. It applies to the Korvosan Guards, Sable Company, etc. Who's the 2nd in command of those? 3rd, etc. Maybe its in the guide, but in one of these mods it should be listed out.


Had i lost something? Why there's not a PDF version for Pathfinder 10?

Scarab Sages

Nifft74 wrote:
Had i lost something? Why there's not a PDF version for Pathfinder 10?

Pathfinder 10 is available as a pdf, click here to add it to your cart.


Thanks... i didn't notice that the PDFs are available later than the Print edition... ^_^"""


The "Quarantine" picture by Julie Dillon made the Daily Deviation on DeviantArt for November 15th.


Would it be wrong of me to say that I think the foxlike rakshasa monk is incredibly sexy? :blush:

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