Chapter 10: "A History of Ashes"
by Michael Kortes
Forced to flee the city of Korvosa and pursued by sinister agents of Queen Ileosa, the heroes travel to the Cinderlands to seek out advice on how to defeat the ancient evil that has claimed their queen’s mind. Few living today know the truth behind this evil—and those who do are among the Shoanti barbarian tribes preparing to invade Korvosa. The PCs must earn the trust of three tribes in order to realize their goals and save Korvosa from a brutal war.
This volume of Pathfinder also features an in-depth exploration of the Shoanti barbarian way of life, an exploration of the harsh badlands known as the Cinderlands, and six new monsters native to these lands.
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 3.5 edition of the world's most popular fantasy roleplaying game.
Warning: This review contains spoilers
Written from a GMs perspective
I ran this for 7 PCs
I ran the Pathfinder re-released version
In A History of Ashes feels like a critical turning point in the Curse of the Crimson Throne adventure path where enemies and objectives start to become clear and the PCs begin to truly march toward their ultimate goal. This turning point is handled superbly in one of the best written chapters of the adventure.
The world building and character development continue to be great. The Cinderlands and the Shoanti characters are well developed and make for an great change of pace from the overall urban focus of the campaign. This transition happens quite naturally and didn't take away from the overall tone of the campaign. Also, despite the PCs being far away from the main problem, the writers did a great job making the main threat still feel present. The progression of Korvosa into martial law is laid out in great detail, so players are able to see that the situation is growing increasingly dire in their absense. Assassination attempts are a clear indication that their actions are not being ignored and that they pose a true threat to the queen. Most importantly, this book feels like a turning point in the adventure where the players are starting to get key information about what is truly happening. This means that they finally get to do missions that are directly related towards defeating the Queen, instead of just putting out the fires caused by her despotic reign.
In addition to a well formed plot and setting, the overall design of the adventure was pretty close to perfect. The game moved at a good pace, with no single section feeling overly drawn out. Combats were well balanced and appropriately challenging. There were tons of opportunity for good roleplaying, between winning the favor of the Shoanti, dealing with an antagonistic potential ally in the form of Krojun and the reveal of the grim revelation of how the Gray Maidens are recruited and trained. The discovery of Cinnabar's incredibly tragic backstory was an especially memorable moment for the players, who had previously had less sympathy for the Red Mantis assassins than any other group. There were also a lot of combat situations that were made more interesting by some unique additions. The fear of making too much noise and awakening the Havero and the having recreating the Shoanti legend by getting eaten by by a giant worm made for especially memorable encounters.
One small complaint I had regarding this book is that it very exposition heavy, especially in the beginning. There is a huge information dump given by Neolandus, followed by more plot important information given by Thousand Bones. Then at the end of the book the players are given even more information by the Sun Shaman and Zellara. This is all good plot building, but can be a bit much to throw at the PCs at once. As a GM I am always a bit wary when I find myself talking for extended periods of time without much opportunity for player input. However, this isn't too much of an issue. The GM just need to be willing to reiterate information later on, in case it wasn't all taken in the first time and be careful during long monologues that they are not losing the table's interest. Some of the long cut scenes can easily be condensed if they are not your groups thing.
I did also notice that the combats are rather back loaded in this adventure, Combat is fairly sparse in the earlier sections and very heavy in the last act. However, in actual game play this did not feel as noticeable as I thought it would be. There was enough intrigue and action in the earlier parts to ensure that dice were being rolled each session and the the last act, while dangerous, was not overwhelming.
Despite a few minor observations that amount to little more than nitpicks and can be easily dealt with, this was a fantastic entry in the Curse of the Crimson throne. It may actually be my favorite chapter of the adventure path to this point.
This volume is all about shoanti. In this volume, there is no "boring-linear-fighting-only-encounters-when-we-travel-from-A-to-B" and no dungeon ! Just a deep immersion in an exotic and rich culture in a land with uncommon features. Heavy on roleplaying and supported with nice articles. This part is truly refreshing... despite its title. :)
A edição tem vários problemas. Sejam eles editoriais, conceituais ou de trama. Apenas a arte se salva 100%. Isso leva a supor que a aventura foi feita as pressas (um problema compartilhado com o conteporaneo Guide to Darkmoon Vale), mas mesmo assim a qualidade que o autor dá a seu texto consegue remediar boa parte dos problemas. Embora eu fique curioso no que mais tempo de desenvolvimento poderiam ter feito pela aventura, pessoalmente eu gostei e acho que não prejudica a qualidade total da campanha. Mestres interessados em conflitos entre duas culturas tem muito a aprender com essa aventura.
My players and I had a lot of fun going through this adventure. I dare to say that it was our favorite adventure out of the Curse of the Crimson throne AP. The Shoanti tribes made for some enjoyable role playing at the table and it was of great relief to break free from the city to venture into the world to gather knowledge about the foe that is to be faced. One of the best out of the series.
This module plays as well as it reads. And that's a good thing because reading it was a real treat.
The Shoanti are one of the most interesting cultures in the Pathfinder setting. And what's really great is that this module "shows" the players what they're all about through direct experience rather than "telling" them through dry exposition. The quests are varied and highly imaginative too. My players enjoyed playing as much as I enjoyed running it.
So far, this is my favorite installment of the AP series. And that's really saying something because it's got some pretty stiff competition.
*fidgets* is it out yet? Is it out yet?
Sorry don't mind me, I know it 'aint going to be available for a couple of weeks yet, but damn, between the sneak peaks on the blog (The Cinderlander and Thousand Bones for the win!) The promise of Shoanti getting some loving and the fact that it's written by the same insane genius that produced Entombed With The Pharoahs, anyone else bouncing off the walls with anticipation?
In my preorders and subscription it says July, but it says June here and I've also just got the "Shipping within the next week we'll be taking the money out of your account soon" email. So June or July? Please say June, I need my fix :(
In my sidecart it shows July (NOOOOOOOO!!!!), but the product still says June.... here's hoping for June, since I am still missing the Gazetteer from the last shipment. Reading a PDF just ain't the same as a book.
Is Yahoo blocking Paizo mail again? I haven't gotten a "shipping soon" email yet.
We were hoping it would arrive today, but it will apparently be Thursday or Friday. (If it's late Friday, that means we won't begin fulfillment until Monday.)
I was hoping at least the pdf would be here by fathers day. Fortunately I have Crucible of Chaos and another complete encounter pack already on the way that should be here by then. Hopefully they will get there Thursday.
We've talked about this, but it hasn't made it to the top of Gary's to-do list yet. There are actually potentially three threads for most of our products—one for the print edition, one for the PDF, and one for the "parent product," which is sort of an overview that lets you add either of the "children" to your cart.
In the future, Gary's supposed to make sure that, regardless of which version of the product you're looking at, comments go only to the parent.
Don't you love how everything that seems simple is really complicated?