Pathfinder Adventure Path #33: The Varnhold Vanishing (Kingmaker 3 of 6) (PFRPG)

3.70/5 (based on 12 ratings)
Pathfinder Adventure Path #33: The Varnhold Vanishing (Kingmaker 3 of 6) (PFRPG)
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Chapter 3: "The Varnhold Vanishing"
by Greg A. Vaughan

The Stolen Lands consume many wanderers—the perils of its rugged wildernesses and hidden mysteries prey upon even the wariest of travelers. Founded upon one of the most savage frontiers, the colony of Varnhold defied the many dangers of this harsh region. At least, it did until all the residents of the fledgling community completely disappeared. Now it falls to the PCs to discover what became of their eastern neighbor, a secret steeped in generations-old hatreds and the mysteries of an empire long crumbled to dust. Can they uncover the terrible secret behind this shocking disappearance before the same calamity befalls their own land?

    This volume of Pathfinder Adventure Path includes:
  • “The Varnhold Vanishing,” a Pathfinder RPG adventure for 7th-level characters, by Greg A. Vaughan.
  • A gazetteer of Iobaria, frigid land of savagery and fallen empires, by Steven Schend.
  • Six new sites of adventure and mystery to expand your Kingmaker campaign, by Ed Greenwood.
  • A new Pathfinder’s Journal in which Pathfinder Ollix Kaddar and Phargas discover the price of gallantry, by J. C. Hay.
  • Five new monsters, by Ed Greenwood, Colin McComb, F. Wesley Schneider, and Neil Spicer.

Pathfinder Adventure Path is Paizo Publishing's monthly 96-page, perfect-bound, full-color softcover book printed on high-quality paper. 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. Pathfinder Adventure Path volumes use the Open Game License and work with both the Pathfinder RPG and the standard 3.5 fantasy RPG rules set.

ISBN–13: 978-1-60125-234-0

A free web enhancement including a map and timeline of Iobaria was feature on the Paizo Blog.

"The Varnhold Vanishing" is sanctioned for use in Pathfinder Society Organized Play. The rules for running this Adventure Path and Chronicle sheet are available as a free download (606 kb zip/PDF).

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

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3.70/5 (based on 12 ratings)

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Dungeon got my players back into dungeon crawls

5/5

I ran this adventure with moderate modification for a group of 5 players (4 experienced, 1 novice). We used the fast experience track, and I cut most of the random encounters and some of the hex-ploring. The adventure took about 7 sessions of 3 hours each, for at total of ~21 hours, but by this point kingdom turns and following up with other side plots makes an exact hour total difficult.

My players have disliked dungeon crawls for years. Some of this is the result of my badly designed dungeons, but they also disliked Jzadirune, City of the Spider Queen, and even the famous Maure Castle. However, they absolutely loved Vordekai's tomb. The villains were cool and creepy. The terrain was interesting and flavorful without being too complicated to run. Even having multiple encounters with exactly the same minions didn't feel repetitive, and the challenge level and size were perfect.

The rest of the adventure was a blast, too. Varnhold is a tantalizing mystery and the smaller encounter sites still have many nice little flavorful touches. These encounters can become boring if the players do things out of order, but it's easy enough to cut them if they become a drag.

The back material on Iobarria is interesting and a great resource if you later want to run Reign of Winter or other adventures there. Ed Greenwood's article on small encounter locations fell flat for me and didn't match the flavor I wanted from Kingmaker, but I'm not going to let one back article pull down the rating of a stellar adventure. The fiction is particularly funny. Among the monsters, the blodeuwedd and stygira saw use in my Kingmaker and made for interesting encounters. All around, a solid issue and a good purchase for the adventure itself, even if you don't want to run the entire Kingmaker campaign.


The challenge was delightfully creepy

5/5

I don't read spoilers, which is a good thing. My DM ran this module and I was blissfully happy that I had no idea what was in store.

The good? Some of the traps were cliffhangers that kept our group on the edge of our seats. I was particularly happy for quick thinking--my cleric cast silence on one of the front line combat characters in combat with the lich. It was still a rough module, but could have been a TPK several times over.

The bad? The module didn't have enough to do with the plot. We still have many unanswered questions about how any of it ties in. Ah well.

It made for a memorable experience, nevertheless.


Is that a F'ing Lich!!!!

5/5

CLASSIC! Great story. Amazing npc's (possibly my DM's doing) great villians and what I final showdown! Lich + instant fortress= Classic! Personally my favorite of the first 4 books for sure.


Free Town, If You Can Keep It! Varnhold Vanishing


This was one of my player's favorite arches; I can see why...there is a great mix of diplomacy and dungeon crawl, and the big bad...*shudder.* See my full review: The Varnhold Vanishing


Running this and its recession review changed my opinon see link at end.

3/5

My format is bullet points, just how I roll.

The Good: -Awesome villain, sells it for me.
-Ok this is based of what is perhaps the most interesting mystery in US history.
-If you use Varn right he adds an amazing element to the story (intro him by book 2 invests your PCs.)
-Some great traps and pitfalls.
-Noman Centaurs are awesome despite the terrible name.

The Bad: -Hexploration, again, can't we just hire surveyors?

Flying Pincusion Recession Review.

The Ugly: -While awesome this villain has no connection to the meta-plot

Overall: Haven't run it yet but I'm psyched to do so, the best reads always translates to teh best adventures.


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James Jacobs wrote:
My favorite part about the new stat block is how it gives cities something to do BESIDES be magic shops. ;-)

Will this stat block show up in all future Paizo products? (that feature settlements)

Dark Archive

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

Still not able to download. Argh!!!

Paizo Employee Creative Director

Arnwyn wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:
My favorite part about the new stat block is how it gives cities something to do BESIDES be magic shops. ;-)
Will this stat block show up in all future Paizo products? (that feature settlements)

Yes.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

Ravenmantle wrote:

Definitely, though I don't mind the list of items available in a settlement. :D

Are the Qualities going to be actual game mechanics (such as Rumormongering Citizens giving a +2 bonus to Diplomacy [just an example]) or are they key words for GMs to use while roleplaying in the settlement? By the wording in the introduction and the fact that they're capitalized, I'm guessing the former is the case. Of course, that doesn't mean they can't be used as key words for roleplaying as well. :D

Both. They're actual bonuses that apply to certain types of skill checks made in the city, but they can also simply be used by the GM to help spur his descriptions of things in the city.

Dark Archive

damnitall22 wrote:
Still not able to download. Argh!!!

You're not the only one. Though part of my problem is I am filling in some stuff I didn't have money for before. Like the dice, some of the mini's and some of the stuff that recently went on sale. So i know that means my order will end up near the end.


damnitall22 wrote:
Still not able to download. Argh!!!

Me eitehr. The transaction has been pending for a week now. It's driving me crazy!


Ask and I shall recieve. I got the e-mail not half an hour after complaining I haven't gotten the e-mail yet. Next time I'll wait an extra half-hour.


After reading the pdf for the first time the adventure seems to be what I had expected: fantastic. Good job, Greg!

Dark Archive

Woohoo PDF's.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

In the section on Iobaria, it mentions that there's a web enhancement detailing Iobaria's timeline somewhere on Paizo. Anyone know where that might be?

Frog God Games

Stephan wrote:
After reading the pdf for the first time the adventure seems to be what I had expected: fantastic. Good job, Greg!

Thanks, Stephan!


James Jacobs wrote:

[...]

Two ways we could, say, do a 1st–20th level adventure in a 6-part AP... IN THEORY:

1) Assume the fast track XP route for a campaign, and focus less on roleplaying and story and more on just cramming in fun encounters. For fans of the older D&D computer games, this means doing an AP more like the Icewind Dale games and less like the Baldur's Gate games.

2) Get more liberal with story awards. We can drop in any amount of story award XP to artificially increase the rate of level gaining. In this way, we could easily do an adventure, say, that splits into three main parts; a part might only have enough encounters to get you 2/3 of the way to the next level, but by saying "Award 3,500 xp to each PC once they successfully kill the goblin king and return the stolen gems to the merchant," we can shoot the party through more levels in an adventure than normal.[...]

First of all, cramming too many things may result in a loss of valuable, atmospheric content.

Secondly, running adventures in-between of AP installments makes for a nice change of pace sometimes - you may simply add at the end of each installment, that characters are expected to advance a level or two before moving forward with the campaign, and that it is up to GM to either add these levels arbitrarily or provide a separate adventure.

Thirdly, in addition to Bestiary and wandering monsters, you may consider building something of a generic sandbox for a given campaign. Designate a large area, wandering monsters are already included in most APs, so just put icons on the map, add one sentence descriptions to each icon and let GM imagination run loose. This campaign-specific sandbox could serve as a training ground between adventures.

Regards,
Ruemere

Silver Crusade Lone Wolf Development

I just received the physical copy of #33 today. Pages 81 - the end are duplicated at the end of the book. I paged through the book, and no page numbers are missing, so I don't think those duplicated pages were swapped for something else.

Since there isn't anything missing, I don't need a replacement or anything - just thought you should know.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

Generic Villain wrote:
In the section on Iobaria, it mentions that there's a web enhancement detailing Iobaria's timeline somewhere on Paizo. Anyone know where that might be?

It's not ready yet.

And probably won't be for a bit longer, especially since we have an art director shortage with Sarah being all out on vacation for a bit longer. Once it IS ready and available, we'll announce it in the blog.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

Mathias Gehl wrote:

I just received the physical copy of #33 today. Pages 81 - the end are duplicated at the end of the book. I paged through the book, and no page numbers are missing, so I don't think those duplicated pages were swapped for something else.

Since there isn't anything missing, I don't need a replacement or anything - just thought you should know.

So you're saying you have what is effectively a 112 page product? That's a printer error; note that the section of duplicated pages = 16 pages—that's what we call a "signature" since the way pages are cut ends up being that many pages. What happened is that the printer accidentally put an extra signature in your book, it sounds like, which may or may not mean that somewhere out there is a copy of the book with those 16 pages missing.

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook, Starfinder Society Subscriber

Just need to know where the town of Varnhold is in relation to the starting point of the AP. I've overlooked it somewhere probably. Would appreciate knowing. Thanks.


Chris Ballard wrote:
Just need to know where the town of Varnhold is in relation to the starting point of the AP. I've overlooked it somewhere probably. Would appreciate knowing. Thanks.

If you print out the map from #32 and lay it next to the map from #33 it will show you what you are looking for. The little hook in the shrike river in map 32 on the right side lines up with the same hook in map 33 on the left side. Just a little bit of trimming and they fit perfectly.

Sovereign Court

Kingmaker part 3 actually starts at 7th level. I'm running 2 groups through this AP and it is great. Even using the medium advancement track the AP follows the same level progression as previous APs (part 1 is lvls 1-3, part 2 is lvls 4-6, part 3 is lvls 7-9, etc.). There are so many encounters that I am actually having a problem keeping the XP down so they don't progress too fast.

Sovereign Court

Also, you guys at Paizo, this is by far one of the best adventure series ever.

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2009, RPG Superstar Judgernaut

Galahad0430 wrote:
Also, you guys at Paizo, this is by far one of the best adventure series ever.

And to think...you're only halfway through it. ;-)

Scarab Sages Contributor, RPG Superstar 2008 Top 4, Legendary Games

Galahad0430 wrote:
Kingmaker part 3 actually starts at 7th level. I'm running 2 groups through this AP and it is great. Even using the medium advancement track the AP follows the same level progression as previous APs (part 1 is lvls 1-3, part 2 is lvls 4-6, part 3 is lvls 7-9, etc.). There are so many encounters that I am actually having a problem keeping the XP down so they don't progress too fast.

I'm running my daughter and her high school friends through KM, though we've only managed a few sessions, and they have just hit 2nd level.

With my main weekly campaign, though, my PCs started KM at around level 4 or 5, and really a lot of the encounters still work fine, especially the wandering monsters. Not all, of course, but liberal application of the "Advanced Simple template" from the Bestiary has more than made up the difference with very little fuss or muss.

They are now 8th level and about halfway or more through Rivers Run Red, and still a lot of the encounters remain challenging, again with a little creative tailoring of the specific encounter locations for various mini-quests that are left kind of vague on the specifics of the terrain (like, say the Mud Bowl and its guardian).

That said, if you're not comfortable adjusting things on the fly or rejiggering a few monsters here and there, I can see your problem. It's nice for PCs to have a few curb stomp battles, but you don't want them ALL to be that way. With an over-leveled party, though, I'm feeling like the campaign is going along pretty well.


James Jacobs wrote:
Arnwyn wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:
My favorite part about the new stat block is how it gives cities something to do BESIDES be magic shops. ;-)
Will this stat block show up in all future Paizo products? (that feature settlements)
Yes.

Cool.

Frog God Games

NSpicer wrote:
Galahad0430 wrote:
Also, you guys at Paizo, this is by far one of the best adventure series ever.
And to think...you're only halfway through it. ;-)

But you've probably hit most of the good parts. ;-)

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook, Starfinder Society Subscriber
Daniel Waugh wrote:
Chris Ballard wrote:
Just need to know where the town of Varnhold is in relation to the starting point of the AP. I've overlooked it somewhere probably. Would appreciate knowing. Thanks.
If you print out the map from #32 and lay it next to the map from #33 it will show you what you are looking for. The little hook in the shrike river in map 32 on the right side lines up with the same hook in map 33 on the left side. Just a little bit of trimming and they fit perfectly.

Thank you.

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2009, RPG Superstar Judgernaut

Greg A. Vaughan wrote:
NSpicer wrote:
Galahad0430 wrote:
Also, you guys at Paizo, this is by far one of the best adventure series ever.
And to think...you're only halfway through it. ;-)
But you've probably hit most of the good parts. ;-)

Yeah, I'm sure that Nelson and Pett guy don't have anything more interesting in store. And that fourth chapter..."Blood for Blood"...? What's that all about? ;-)

Frog God Games

NSpicer wrote:
Greg A. Vaughan wrote:
NSpicer wrote:
Galahad0430 wrote:
Also, you guys at Paizo, this is by far one of the best adventure series ever.
And to think...you're only halfway through it. ;-)
But you've probably hit most of the good parts. ;-)
Yeah, I'm sure that Nelson and Pett guy don't have anything more interesting in store. And that fourth chapter..."Blood for Blood"...? What's that all about? ;-)

I like to refer to those three parts as the appendices. Varnhold is really probably the climax of the whole thing :-)

(Must remind self to show Rich this thread, he'll want to chime in I'm sure...and avoid Jason and Neil at PaizoCon in any dark alleys)

Scarab Sages Contributor, RPG Superstar 2008 Top 4, Legendary Games

Greg A. Vaughan wrote:
NSpicer wrote:
Greg A. Vaughan wrote:
NSpicer wrote:
Galahad0430 wrote:
Also, you guys at Paizo, this is by far one of the best adventure series ever.
And to think...you're only halfway through it. ;-)
But you've probably hit most of the good parts. ;-)
Yeah, I'm sure that Nelson and Pett guy don't have anything more interesting in store. And that fourth chapter..."Blood for Blood"...? What's that all about? ;-)

I like to refer to those three parts as the appendices. Varnhold is really probably the climax of the whole thing :-)

(Must remind self to show Rich this thread, he'll want to chime in I'm sure...and avoid Jason and Neil at PaizoCon in any dark alleys)

Gotta watch your back around murderous ex-Sonics fans, Mr. OKC Thunder fan... :)

Frog God Games

Oh yeah, and that to...

Contributor

Greg A. Vaughan wrote:
NSpicer wrote:
Galahad0430 wrote:
Also, you guys at Paizo, this is by far one of the best adventure series ever.
And to think...you're only halfway through it. ;-)
But you've probably hit most of the good parts. ;-)

ONE of the best Vaughn was the exact phrase.

Quite clearly at number 4, below mine:)

Contributor

Greg A. Vaughan wrote:
Oh yeah, and that to...

Are you sure you know who that shadow is Mr V...

Contributor

NSpicer wrote:
Greg A. Vaughan wrote:
NSpicer wrote:
Galahad0430 wrote:
Also, you guys at Paizo, this is by far one of the best adventure series ever.
And to think...you're only halfway through it. ;-)
But you've probably hit most of the good parts. ;-)
Yeah, I'm sure that Nelson and Pett guy don't have anything more interesting in store. And that fourth chapter..."Blood for Blood"...? What's that all about? ;-)

The cream is rising to the top of this AP as it progresses:)

It's odd because it usually peaks at about part 2...


Huzzah for Pett!


When is the PDF for the Varnhold Vanishing going to be available?


June 2nd

Sovereign Court

Looking to see if this guy would be in my local gamestore yet, or if I should expect it next week, I went to the Product Schedule page, and what do I discover?

Pathfinder #32 released in April.
Pathfinder #34 released in June.

Pathfinder #33 nowhere to be seen! Very odd.

Paizo Employee Chief Technical Officer

cappadocius wrote:

Looking to see if this guy would be in my local gamestore yet, or if I should expect it next week, I went to the Product Schedule page, and what do I discover?

Pathfinder #32 released in April.
Pathfinder #34 released in June.

Pathfinder #33 nowhere to be seen! Very odd.

Hmm. We'll fix. The retail release date is June 2.

Sovereign Court

Vic Wertz wrote:


Hmm. We'll fix. The retail release date is June 2.

That was my suspicion, but thank you!


Thanks Greg!!
Just came in the mail the other day and I positively cannot wait to unleash its pure awesomeness upon my unsuspecting players! >:D

P.S. Missed you last weekend, though at least we got to play with Brent for like 8 hours :)

Frog God Games

usagimotoko wrote:

Thanks Greg!!

Just came in the mail the other day and I positively cannot wait to unleash its pure awesomeness upon my unsuspecting players! >:D

P.S. Missed you last weekend, though at least we got to play with Brent for like 8 hours :)

?? So now I must ask, who is Usagimotoko that he knows me and gamed with my brother last weekend?


Greg A. Vaughan wrote:
usagimotoko wrote:

Thanks Greg!!

Just came in the mail the other day and I positively cannot wait to unleash its pure awesomeness upon my unsuspecting players! >:D

P.S. Missed you last weekend, though at least we got to play with Brent for like 8 hours :)

?? So now I must ask, who is Usagimotoko that he knows me and gamed with my brother last weekend?

It is I! Nick! mwa ha haaaa!

And by the way... the deciding factor of me starting to get the Pathfinder stuff was the fact that Sara saw your name on one of the other AP books ;)

Frog God Games

Hey, Nick!! Okay, it all makes sense now. I forgot that Brent was back in B'ville last weekend. I was thinking you were somebody from Nashville and couldn't think of who I knew there. I'm glad you guys got to play. I wanted to come but was busy working on the next AP trying to beat deadline. :-) I'm glad you liked Varnhold Vanishing. Stay tuned for Vaults of Madness. I promise not to playtest any of this stuff on you guys. ;-)


Greg A. Vaughan wrote:
Hey, Nick!! Okay, it all makes sense now. I forgot that Brent was back in B'ville last weekend. I was thinking you were somebody from Nashville and couldn't think of who I knew there. I'm glad you guys got to play. I wanted to come but was busy working on the next AP trying to beat deadline. :-) I'm glad you liked Varnhold Vanishing. Stay tuned for Vaults of Madness. I promise not to playtest any of this stuff on you guys. ;-)

Awww... but I ENJOY playtesting your stuff ;) It gives me an excuse to try things like dropping a boulder on another dragon's head and figuring out how many dice I need for the damage :D I think it was something like 31d6 when my roommate calculated it all... lol, nothing like killing a huge dragon with a STR check :)


Pathfinder Adventure Subscriber

Got this today and haven't had time to read it yet, but still has to ask who the artist(s) doing the illustrations on page 6 (so cool it should be used on a cover sometime) and page 54 (the absolutely gorgeous picture of Merisiel facing off with a frost giant)? And is there any chance either one of them will show up on the Paizo-blog in a nice desktop-size? Pretty please with sprinkles on top?

And I too had a second or two of thinking there was a monster called a discodaemon in the adventure - which would have been kinda cool, but utterly stupid.


Hi, I noticed that "Add PDF" is above "Add Print Edition" instead of the other way around. I also noticed that it's the same with Classic Monsters Revisited, which (according to its discussion thread) is at such low stock that it was actually out-of-stock for a bit. Is that reversal of the normal order a signal that stock is getting low, and it's time to buy this volume if you want it in print?

Paizo Employee Chief Technical Officer

SciVo wrote:
Hi, I noticed that "Add PDF" is above "Add Print Edition" instead of the other way around. I also noticed that it's the same with Classic Monsters Revisited, which (according to its discussion thread) is at such low stock that it was actually out-of-stock for a bit. Is that reversal of the normal order a signal that stock is getting low, and it's time to buy this volume if you want it in print?

It's not meaningful. Our old database structure always returned product lists based on date created, and since we put the print editions up before the PDFs, they always showed up first. Our new database can return queries in either order, so unless we do something to order them, they may actually switch positions every now and then. We'll see about getting them to display in the old order again.


Thanks! As always, I really appreciate the swift, complete and concise replies from you guys.

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