Pathfinder Adventure Path #43: The Haunting of Harrowstone (Carrion Crown 1 of 6) (PFRPG)

4.60/5 (based on 32 ratings)
Pathfinder Adventure Path #43: The Haunting of Harrowstone (Carrion Crown 1 of 6) (PFRPG)

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Chapter 1: "Haunting of Harrowstone"
by Michael Kortes

When Harrowstone Prison burned to the ground, prisoners, guards, and a host of vicious madmen met a terrifying end. In the years since, the nearby town of Ravengro has shunned the fire-scarred ruins, telling tales of unquiet spirits that wander abandoned cellblocks. But when a mysterious evil disturbs Harrowstone’s tenuous spiritual balance, a ghostly prison riot commences that threatens to consume the nearby village in madness and flames. Can the adventurers discover the secrets of Harrowstone and quell a rebellion of the dead? Or will they be the spirit-prison’s next inmates?

    This volume of Pathfinder Adventure Path launches the Carrion Crown Adventure Path and includes:
  • “The Haunting of Harrowstone,” a Pathfinder RPG adventure for 1st-level characters, by Michael Kortes
  • A tour of Ravengro, village of mystery and suspicion, by Michael Kortes
  • Expanded rules for creating and running horrific haunts, by Brandon Hodge
  • An ancient revenge is reborn in the Pathfinder’s Journal, by F. Wesley Schneider
  • Six new monsters, by Adam Daigle and Patrick Renie

Each monthly full-color softcover 96-page Pathfinder Adventure Path volume contains an in-depth adventure scenario, stats for several new monsters, and 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: 978-1-60125-308-8

The Haunting of Harrowstone 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 (561 KB zip/PDF).

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

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Haunting of Harrowstone or good start to a race that goes nowhere.

4/5

Haunting of Harrowstone is a good start to the Carrion Crown adventure path. Unfortunately, it’s only a good start and the rest of the adventure path drops the baton, falls on its face, or wanders off the path so far they end up in a horse pasture trying to figure out how to get back.

Some of the combat at the beginning can be a bit frustrating for players but the hauntings do help bring a creepy element and a very misleading theme that the game forgets.


Least favorite AP launch module so far, but...

3/5

Though the kick-off to the Carrion Crown Adventure Path is a great one in concept, ties superbly to following chapters, and features all sorts of early opportunity for players to invest in a community, I feel that it gets bogged down in the execution of the prison of Harrowstone itself.

While the plot elements and five powerful spirits are all well-crafted, the place is so saturated by haunts that they became extremely predictable and, sadly, even wearying. Though it is traditionally a bit harder to find interesting enemies for starting parties to combat, this module does well in that regard. I feel this could have been far more effective with a few better-chosen haunts (like the furnace on the first floor) that have more dire consequences.

I felt that the interaction with Ravengro and its inhabitants, and the slow unraveling of the prison's past were the real draws to this AP, and I would recommend it, although with perhaps a few noticeable tweaks.


By far the best of the first 3 parts

3/5

A lot of people seem to like this adventure very much.
I didn't quite as much.
For me it seemed less about horror but more about hack and slash dungeon crawl with undead.
The trust mechanic is terrible.
And I think throwing one big, powerful magic weapon at the PCs instead of letting them find several weaker ones lead to PCs sitting around during fights doing nothing because the enemies where immune to mundane weapons.

As the title states, this was by far the best of the first three parts of carrion crown.


Dark and well-written

5/5

There are many good things to be said about The Haunting of Harrowstone, as you can see in these reviews. I have just finished GMing it with my group, and I will join the choir. Sure, there are things that need tweaking - the trust point system for instance - but they are minor, to my eyes.

Depending on your group, the module can be played like a railroad or like a sandbox. You can give the players information that shoot them straight towards the mysteries, or you can let them explore the town and slowly uncover things. In my case, I have players that love a good mystery, and that actually want to bond with (or provoke, or quarrel with) the NPCs I put in front of them. And it has worked well.

The atmosphere is great, the writer created a good gothic feel to the monsters and the events. The NPCs are memorable and the hidden facts are possible to decipher without being too obvious, I think. The locations are dark and gritty, the monsters challenging and fun.

Also:

Spoiler:
I like the fact that the prison actually influences the town. Instead of a dungeon far away in the woods, with the occasional raid or missing travelers, this dungeon makes a difference in town. In the tavern, in the town hall. As a GM you can increase the tension step by step, until the PCs realize that something precious will be lost if they don't act. And that makes the dungeon feel like it's actually a part of the game world. This is a really good thing.

The Haunting of Harrowstone gets 5 stars from me.


5/5


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Dark Archive

Pathfinder Card Game, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Chris Mortika wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:
So... what do folks use those stats for, anyway?

James, I fear this is a sore spot for me. I don't think that using the iconics as pre-generated characters is a good move overall, and I think the particular decisions Paizo has made regarding them was ill-considered.

First off, I was surprised that their stats are so permanent. I really didn't expect to see the "9th Level Rogue" from one AP to have the same stats as the "9th Level Rogue" from a module, let alone as the "9th Level Rogue" in an unrelated AP.

We know that the "Merisiel" who adventured through the Legacy of Fire wasn't the same character as the one who encountered the Rise of the Runelords. There's no reason that she (nor any of the other LoF iconics) shouldn't have been carrying around the gear won throughout the adventure. (Were they selling it all for half-price, so they could buy generic stuff?) Likewise, I don't understand why her skills, feats, and even attributes, didn't reflect the environment and conditions of the AP.

So, while I understand why Seelah should look the same from one use to another, I don't understand why --for example-- the Seelah in "The Demon Within" doesn't have a stronger Charisma than the character in other settings.

Secondly, I am at a loss to explain the choice of which iconics to assign to a given product or AP. The choice of a Lawful Evil character like Seltyiel for Council of Thieves baffles me. He's the last character I'd think to give to a new player, and I can't imagine him going through the entire AP, siding with the party.

So, I think they're used poorly. Given that, I don't use them at all.

CotCT spoilers:
IIRC, in the last three issuses of Curse, Lem had a Rod of Wonder, which I presume he picked up from the Emperor. He doesn't have one in his late CoT stats
Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I kind of would advocate kicking the pregens from the APs, but I have a bigger axe to grind with the fiction, especially now that Pathfinder Tales are in a full swing. :)


I think the pregens, once they've all been statted out at key levels, would make an excellent permanent download, like the traits document. Then a two page spread could be reduced to "download pregenerated characters from paizo.com/pathfinder/pregens" and people could pick their own party if they don't want to build their own PCs. But I've never seen anyone actually play with a pregen outside of PFS, so I think their inclusion in the APs (and less so in the modules) are unnecessary.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

Gorbacz wrote:
I kind of would advocate kicking the pregens from the APs, but I have a bigger axe to grind with the fiction, especially now that Pathfinder Tales are in a full swing. :)

The Pathfinder AP is, arguably, our most successful line of books. It's been the foundation of pretty much everything we've done, and it's been VERY well received. I'm very hesitant to any plan that involves drastic changes to this line as a result. Especially if such a change would involve removing a part of the product I happen to quite like.

Dark Archive

Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
yoda8myhead wrote:
I think the pregens, once they've all been statted out at key levels, would make an excellent permanent download, like the traits document. Then a two page spread could be reduced to "download pregenerated characters from paizo.com/pathfinder/pregens" and people could pick their own party if they don't want to build their own PCs. But I've never seen anyone actually play with a pregen outside of PFS, so I think their inclusion in the APs (and less so in the modules) are unnecessary.

Sounds like the best option to me.

And as far as the fiction goes, it's kind of dependent on the author if I'm interested in it or not. Some cycles' fiction I like and read eagerly, others I just skip over entirely.


James Jacobs wrote:


Part of what I get paid for is to "know" what folks want to see and what they want us to do. If there's a fear that an iconic gets sidelined, it's my job to know that fear's out there and to take steps to fix it.

I miss Lem. I demand more Lem.

James Jacobs wrote:
So... what do folks use those stats for, anyway?

Lots of laughing about their stat blocks, to be honest. We love that Ezren has 9 Dex and has an AC of 9 at first level, or that he has an AC of 12 at 12th level... we love that Merisiel has an Int of 8 or that Valeros two-weapon fights with two different weapons yet refuses to favor one over the other and has a duplicate set of feats for both weapons.

They're extremely terrible and it really endears us to them. I can honestly say I love reading the bits of fiction at chapter headings about them, or knowing that certain iconics are this or that-- it's why I find the new iconics kind of boring, because they're kind of generic and none of them have silly factoids or points of interest you can talk about with other people, like, for instance, Ezren being gay (or was that just a rumor? I can't remember.). I wish the APG had chapter headings characterizing the new iconics instead of the old ones, but you do what you can, I guess.

The only well built iconics are Lini and Lem-- leave it up to the short people to make everyone else look bad, seriously.

Dark Archive

Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
Ice Titan wrote:
I miss Lem. I demand more Lem.

Second. Lem and Seltiyel should definitely be in cycle 9, whether it's Jade Regent or not.

Ice Titan wrote:


James Jacobs wrote:
So... what do folks use those stats for, anyway?

Lots of laughing about their stat blocks, to be honest. We love that Ezren has 9 Dex and has an AC of 9 at first level, or that he has an AC of 12 at 12th level... we love that Merisiel has an Int of 8 or that Valeros two-weapon fights with two different weapons yet refuses to favor one over the other and has a duplicate set of feats for both weapons.

They're extremely terrible and it really endears us to them. The only well built iconics are Lini and Lem-- leave it up to the short people to make everyone else look bad.

Merisiel's Int is now a 10 with Pathfinder... but yeah, some of them were pretty poorly designed.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Kvantum wrote:
Merisiel's Int is now a 10 with Pathfinder... but yeah, some of them were pretty poorly designed.

I once, at the cusp of death in a game, silently vowed that "If Ezren can limp his way through this, I can too!"

Then I learned Ezren wasn't iconic in Council of Thieves and, a round or two later, died, but that's beside the point...

I love the iconics, seriously. But they're so bad!

Paizo Employee Creative Director

If we have to make a choice between "not number crunched" and "flawed so that they'll make for more interesting characters," I think it's obvious which side we tend to err on. AKA: I'm not interested in officially entering the race to design the "best built" character. The internet's already won that race a thousand times.

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2009, RPG Superstar Judgernaut

James,

Personally, I think the pregen iconic PCs in the APs have kind of served their purpose and run their course. With the exception of the APG iconics, we've got examples where they're pretty well-statted out at every level they need to be. And, for anyone who's followed along with the APs for awhile now, they're becoming repetitive.

So, I'd agree with Mark. I think it would make more sense eventually to create a downloadable 1-2 page PDF with the pregens on them, have a reference in the actual book that mentions where you go to download them...and then use that bit of marketing to draw consumers to the Paizo website and a specific place where they can find more web enhancement stuff to...well, enhance...their campaign for that particular AP.

Meanwhile, that should also help free up 1-2 pages in the actual book, which you can put to use for a whole variety of other things. For instance, the APs have at times struggled to take PCs up into the 17th-18th level range while still maintaining enough of the adventure's "story" in the face of having to include "extra XP" encounters to keep them advancing that far. These 1-2 pages spread across six issues of the AP could potentially help with that.

Or, another alternative use for those pages could include extra fiction in the event you want your authors to have more "elbow room" to flex their literary muscles.

Or, you can squeeze in some more monsters.

Or, you can include extra rules elements like the mass combat stuff that appeared in Kingmaker without having to trim anything else.

Or, you can have an extra long supporting article that helps enhance the campaign setting with more information on where the campaign takes place.

Or, you could have any mix of these things in any or all of the six issues over a single AP.

To me, I think that might wind up being a better use of that space. It's obviously important to still help new players break into the game. But, I've usually found the need for the pregen characters in the standalone modules moreso than an AP...because, quite frankly, most gaming groups who make a conscious decision to run through an entire AP, also take the extra time to create their own PCs to enjoy and personalize the experience rather than take on the pregens and run them through it.

But that's just my two-cents,
--Neil


yoda8myhead wrote:
I think the pregens, once they've all been statted out at key levels, would make an excellent permanent download, like the traits document. Then a two page spread could be reduced to "download pregenerated characters from paizo.com/pathfinder/pregens" and people could pick their own party if they don't want to build their own PCs. But I've never seen anyone actually play with a pregen outside of PFS, so I think their inclusion in the APs (and less so in the modules) are unnecessary.

Could not agree more. No one in our group has ever played a pregen (in Pathfinder or in any other RPG) given a choice, and if the stats are going to be the same in every moduule, it really is a waste of space to keep reprinting the same information over and over.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

Damon Griffin wrote:
yoda8myhead wrote:
I think the pregens, once they've all been statted out at key levels, would make an excellent permanent download, like the traits document. Then a two page spread could be reduced to "download pregenerated characters from paizo.com/pathfinder/pregens" and people could pick their own party if they don't want to build their own PCs. But I've never seen anyone actually play with a pregen outside of PFS, so I think their inclusion in the APs (and less so in the modules) are unnecessary.
Could not agree more. No one in our group has ever played a pregen (in Pathfinder or in any other RPG) given a choice, and if the stats are going to be the same in every moduule, it really is a waste of space to keep reprinting the same information over and over.

Would you feel the same way if we used those extra two pages to put in two more ads?

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Card Game, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Ice Titan wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:


Part of what I get paid for is to "know" what folks want to see and what they want us to do. If there's a fear that an iconic gets sidelined, it's my job to know that fear's out there and to take steps to fix it.

I miss Lem. I demand more Lem.

James Jacobs wrote:
So... what do folks use those stats for, anyway?

Lots of laughing about their stat blocks, to be honest. We love that Ezren has 9 Dex and has an AC of 9 at first level, or that he has an AC of 12 at 12th level... we love that Merisiel has an Int of 8 or that Valeros two-weapon fights with two different weapons yet refuses to favor one over the other and has a duplicate set of feats for both weapons.

They're extremely terrible and it really endears us to them. I can honestly say I love reading the bits of fiction at chapter headings about them, or knowing that certain iconics are this or that-- it's why I find the new iconics kind of boring, because they're kind of generic and none of them have silly factoids or points of interest you can talk about with other people, like, for instance, Ezren being gay (or was that just a rumor? I can't remember.). I wish the APG had chapter headings characterizing the new iconics instead of the old ones, but you do what you can, I guess.

The only well built iconics are Lini and Lem-- leave it up to the short people to make everyone else look bad, seriously.

A couple of them did - certainly Alain and the-oracle-whos-name-i-can-never-remember are at the front of the classes chapter.

Part of the problem is that those big front pieces are expensive, and normally recycled from the covers of other books - As Master of the Fallen Fortress is the only cover with APG iconics so far, its would have been a bit difficult to get them in here- you're looking at eight brand new big art pieces, which would probably have shoved up the cover price, or at least eaten into Paizo's margins a lot.

On the other hand I expect Damiel and the witch will probably get their turn in Ultimate Magic, if they reuse the APG cover, plus possibly some others in between.

Also to ask James' question that emerged when I was doing this earlier; no, the pregens are preferable to more ads. If you can find a way to use the space for more content, that would be great, but I'm probably already buying most of what you advertise there, and am unlikely to expand (eg barring the lottery I'm probably never subscribing to the modules line.)

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2009, RPG Superstar Judgernaut

James Jacobs wrote:
Would you feel the same way if we used those extra two pages to put in two more ads?

If those extra ads helped generate more revenue (and hence, capital) for Paizo so you can do more and go further as a company, I'd say use them for that purpose. That said, I don't imagine you'd need to set aside those extra pages in every issue of an AP for that purpose. Even if you used just 2 of the 6 issues to place more ads, and then the other 4 issues to increase actual content (particularly for the higher-level adventures), I think that would be a better way to budget them.

Really, I think it boils down to each section of an AP issue having to be analyzed as to its purpose and how well it's realizing that purpose. For instance, are the existing ads in the APs generating revenue? Yes. So keep them. Are the pregen PCs in the APs helping to aid everyone's games or otherwise introduce new players to the game? I'd likely say no. Not in the APs, at least. Stand-alone modules? Yes. AP adventures which are geared more toward full-scale campaigns? No. So, I'd say they could probably be put to greater use.

Dark Archive

Adventure Path Charter Subscriber

I think the space probably could be better used (Neil has a lot of good ideas above), but I also don't mind keeping the pregens - but they need to be able to actually function as pregens.

Don't get me wrong, I like the "flawed" nature of many of the iconics - Merisiel's Int doesn't bother me, nor does Valeros' "non-optimal" weapon choice. But I've yet to see a pregen stat block that could actually survive any of the APs they've appeared in. ACs and attack bonuses are too low compared to the foes they would face and their feat and equipment choices often make little sense, either thematically or in a crunch sense.

If those issues were addressed, I think the pregens could serve a useful purpose. I'm not sure to what degree the APs are formally play-tested, but I think the pregens could be used to provide a base-line around which the adventures are written. I'm always beefing up encounters in the APs (not a complaint-I usually run parties of 5-6 with above-average ability scores) but sometimes struggle to determine how much to enhance things. If the pregens provided a more realistic baseline for the adventures, I could compare my PCs to them and get a better idea of how much firepower to add. Built to be actually survivable, the pregens also could serve as legitimate stand-ins or substitute characters.

So, that's my 2 cents - either ditch 'em or improve them so they can actually match the assumed power level of the APs and provide a reasonable baseline for comparison.

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 16

I personally think the use of pregens needs to change. Removing them is certainly one very viable option.

However, if you keep them, can I suggest a little more integration into the AP?

I found the Monk's "backstory" written up for Kingmaker to be utterly frustrating: he's looking for his sister? Really? And that's why he's out taming the wilderness and becoming a king? I would want to show the pregens to my PCs as examples of how to make a character. When my players were spinning up a party for Kingmaker, they asked me what the "suggested" party was. So I turned to the pregens and I said "a barbarian, a ranger, a druid, and a monk" and then they said "but in the player's guide, it said monks would be pretty out of place for this campaign." I was frustrated.

Or in Legacy of Fire: who was the Mold Speaker? Wouldn't one of the pregens naturally have that? I noticed the Fighter had some cold-based weapons, so I guess it was him?

Why don't the pregens ever take the campaign traits? I noticed for this AP the traits will "tie them to the AP more than ever" which gets me very excited. But will the pregens take them? Why not?

To answer the ads challenge: I'd say "yes" ads are preferred over misleading pregens. Advertise some of the less-known lines, like the monsters revisited line, or the setting guides that are relevant to that part of the world. At least players won't be thrown off track by their implicit suggestions.

(Though of course giving more space to the support articles would be preferred over ads. :-) )

Paizo Employee Creative Director

Erik Freund wrote:
However, if you keep them, can I suggest a little more integration into the AP?

This won't happen... beyond using them in the half-page illustrations, that is. The whole POINT of an Adventure Path is that it's about your group's players. The instant we start putting our iconics into that role, it'll look like we're downplaying your players and regarding their characters as "secondary" to our own iconics. That's not something I ever ever ever ever want to do or imply. So the adventures will continue to be iconic-free in the text department.

As for the iconics themselves... this is the first I've really heard a relatively sizable consensus about folks thinking that space in the books could be put to better use. That's PROBABLY because this thread's current tenor is self-selecting for that response. But it's certainly given me something to think about.

One thing we certainly won't be doing is dropping the iconic pregens in the middle of an AP, though, so the EARLIEST we'll cut those pages and replace it with something else would be Carrion Crown. IF we decide to do that.

I'll probably be asking folks this question at Gen Con quite a lot... among various other questions...

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

First - I like the pregens at the back of the Adventure Paths, and hearing that an APG iconic was going to make it into the big leagues got me giddy.

But then, I read through the discussion about the place for iconics, and became conflicted. Two more pages on the mass combat rules would have really fleshed them out more in Kingmaker. Two more pages of adventure in Curse of the Crimson Throne might have been useful for tying together the troublesome 4th and 5th chapters that take the players away from their home town. Or making more room in Council of Thieves for the PCs to level up.

Sentimentally I like seeing the iconics in the back of the book (I usually hand them to a PC that forgets their character sheet), but if I have that as a downloadable resource (where each iconic character sheet would have more room to breathe since page space isn't an issue in a PDF). Well, that is infinitely more useful.

If Feija is to appear as an iconic then I'd want to see the unusual rules for hexes shown as well, and that becomes a page space issue.

The great thing about an Iconic Character Sheet downloadable product is that it can also act as a natural advertisement for the APG - Do you want to use the cool new abilities shown on this iconic? Then buy the APG where they will be fully explained.

As always I'd prefer content over ads. Maybe those two pages can be given to iconic locations that could be useful in the campaign - An inn the PCs might frequent filled with interesting NPCs (and side quest hooks).

Actually that's something that I miss from the original APs from Dungeon, every adventure would have little boxes which suggested side-quests. You want to give characters enough xp to hit 18-20? Then give GMs some inspiration on how to expand sideways during each chapter of the AP with those two pages.

Just my $0.02


For what it's worth, I think it's awesome that the WITCH is going to be a pregen for the HORROR adventure path.

I've never used the pregens in any way myself, but then I've never actually ran ANY of the Adventure Paths either. I own them all, never played any of them, mostly because I'm still primarily in an FR campaign started back in 2006.

If there is consideration of dropping the pre-gens, I'd recommend that they still be available in the first book of the path so players can elect to start as them, but then be responsible for leveling them up themselves. I'd also recommend that they still be included in the modules. Also, they're definitely better than more ads. (The current pages of ads should feature the modules more often though. For what it's worth, the Modules line is awesome. It never gets any love.)

For my two cents, I have not used them, don't plan to use them, but I don't mind them and I do look read them occasionally. (Not frequently enough to notice that the same characters are built the same in multiple APs. I do think they should be campaign-specific, not just cardboard.) I do think they're good for the -rare- occasion when I might have someone join my game that I didn't expect to play, and who doesn't know how to play. Last time that happened, I gave the brand-new player a non-optimal character I had built to use as an NPC. (He's still playing him when he plays.)

I do like that the APG classes are seeing some use in other products. What's the point of introducing more base classes if they're never used? I hope the variant core classes see use too.

Also, Carrion Crown! *cheers*

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 16

James Jacobs wrote:
Erik Freund wrote:
However, if you keep them, can I suggest a little more integration into the AP?
This won't happen... beyond using them in the half-page illustrations, that is. The whole POINT of an Adventure Path is that it's about your group's players. The instant we start putting our iconics into that role, it'll look like we're downplaying your players and regarding their characters as "secondary" to our own iconics. That's not something I ever ever ever ever want to do or imply. So the adventures will continue to be iconic-free in the text department.

Sorry, I wasn't clear. I want to suggest that you integrate the AP into the iconics. Not the other way around. :-) See further comments in my earlier post for specifics.

Dark Archive

I'm not concerned with system bloat. Please keep up the good work. I'll keep on buying your products.

Liberty's Edge RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32, 2011 Top 16

I tend to like reading the pre-gens, but I haven't used them (yet). I think they're also good for a quick cohort if nothing more appropriate comes to mind. I think with the release of the Pathfinder RPG, it's breathed a bit more life into the pre-gens, since now we get to see them built using the new rules, new feats, etc. With the inclusion of the APG classes, that will also show a few build options for those classes when they're used as pre-gens.

However, in another AP or two, the original 12 will certainly start to feel a bit stale, even with tweaks from one AP to another, and I'd have to say that Neil's suggestions all have merit. Especially when new sub-systems are introduced like the kingdom building or mass combat quick rules from Kingmaker. Another page or two there would have really helped flesh those out further.

The big question is - how would replacing the pre-gens with other content (not ads) affect margins? Presumably the pre-gens are done in house with minimal time invested at this point. 2 more pages of content would require paying someone to write it, edit it, develop it, layout, and probably a few steps I'm not thinking of, all of which would cost Paizo a bit more to produce an AP (not to mention require that many more hours in a month - and we know they're already stretched beyond the human limits of endurance and could all use a nice long vacation.) While Paizo is doing great, no company really wants to errode it's margins - so would the 2 pages extra lead to a quicker price increase, or some other negative impact? If so, I'd be fine with keeping the pre-gens, especially if they liven them up a bit with mixing in bits of APG material (like Harsk getting Crossbow Mastery in other APs, not just CotCT.

Dark Archive

James Jacobs wrote:
Kevin Mack wrote:
Kind of agree with Bugleyman It's one thing to include an Npc witch but quite another to include one as a pregen. Also (and this may sound like a silly concern) having a choose whatever we feel like system could lead to certain Iconics being sidelined.

Part of what I get paid for is to "know" what folks want to see and what they want us to do. If there's a fear that an iconic gets sidelined, it's my job to know that fear's out there and to take steps to fix it.

As for the difference between NPCs and pregens... that brings up a good question. I'd like to know if ANYone uses the pregenerated NPCs as characters for the APs. The primary reason we run their stats at all is because that was a HUGE and CONSTANT request during the Dungeon magazine days—folks always wanted to know what the stats were for the iconics we used for the magazine. They were annoyed and startled to find out that there WERE no stats for them, and that in most cases the Dungeon iconics didn't even have names. They were solely used to give the magazine a visual cohesiveness and to act as shortcuts for us asking our dozens of different artists to paint class-specific characters without having to re-explain what a wizard can and can't wear or do.

If folks primarily just want to see the iconics' stats to know what they are, then that's an ENTIRELY different use than if folks are using them as actual PCs. Or as NPCs, for that matter.

So... what do folks use those stats for, anyway?

I say keep them in, they don't take up much room. The big reason why i say keep them in is this and it has happened a couple of times. The players hire a NPC or something and I need a fast stat block. I just flip to the end and I have 4 ready made there. While it doesn't come up much but it has enough that I like them being there. That's is of course just my personal opinion and reasoning for it.

Dark Archive

Wolf Munroe wrote:

For what it's worth, I think it's awesome that the WITCH is going to be a pregen for the HORROR adventure path.

I've never used the pregens in any way myself, but then I've never actually ran ANY of the Adventure Paths either. I own them all, never played any of them, mostly because I'm still primarily in an FR campaign started back in 2006.

If there is consideration of dropping the pre-gens, I'd recommend that they still be available in the first book of the path so players can elect to start as them, but then be responsible for leveling them up themselves. I'd also recommend that they still be included in the modules. Also, they're definitely better than more ads. (The current pages of ads should feature the modules more often though. For what it's worth, the Modules line is awesome. It never gets any love.)

For my two cents, I have not used them, don't plan to use them, but I don't mind them and I do look read them occasionally. (Not frequently enough to notice that the same characters are built the same in multiple APs. I do think they should be campaign-specific, not just cardboard.) I do think they're good for the -rare- occasion when I might have someone join my game that I didn't expect to play, and who doesn't know how to play. Last time that happened, I gave the brand-new player a non-optimal character I had built to use as an NPC. (He's still playing him when he plays.)

I do like that the APG classes are seeing some use in other products. What's the point of introducing more base classes if they're never used? I hope the variant core classes see use too.

Also, Carrion Crown! *cheers*

I actually like the idea that I bolded. It is a good compromise from having them in the AP's which I like and using the space for other stuff. I am also glad to see the witch and the all girl group for the next AP and I hope regardless how this turns out they stick around for at least that one before the pregen's go away.

Dark Archive

James Jacobs wrote:
Gorbacz wrote:
I kind of would advocate kicking the pregens from the APs, but I have a bigger axe to grind with the fiction, especially now that Pathfinder Tales are in a full swing. :)
The Pathfinder AP is, arguably, our most successful line of books. It's been the foundation of pretty much everything we've done, and it's been VERY well received. I'm very hesitant to any plan that involves drastic changes to this line as a result. Especially if such a change would involve removing a part of the product I happen to quite like.

I do see the point but I like the fiction personally. Though perhaps a chance in direction with the AP fiction would make sense. How about a IC Pathfinder journal, told by a Pathfinder who adventured in the same setting that the AP is set in? That would be a entertaining way to share more information about the setting and fit the Pathfinder theme.

Anyways just a thought.

Sovereign Court

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Maps, Pathfinder Accessories, Pawns, Starfinder Accessories, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Charter Superscriber
Dark_Mistress wrote:
Wolf Munroe wrote:
If there is consideration of dropping the pre-gens, I'd recommend that they still be available in the first book of the path so players can elect to start as them, but then be responsible for leveling them up themselves.
I actually like the idea that I bolded. It is a good compromise from having them in the AP's which I like and using the space for other stuff. I am also glad to see the witch and the all girl group for the next AP and I hope regardless how this turns out they stick around for at least that one before the pregen's go away.

I agree.


James Jacobs wrote:


Would you feel the same way if we used those extra two pages to put in two more ads?

<Shrug.> I'd at least look at ads. I always ignore the pregen pages, knowing I won't use them for anything.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

JoelF847 wrote:
The big question is - how would replacing the pre-gens with other content (not ads) affect margins? Presumably the pre-gens are done in house with minimal time invested at this point. 2 more pages of content would require paying someone to write it, edit it, develop it, layout, and probably a few steps I'm not thinking of, all of which would cost Paizo a bit more to produce an AP (not to mention require that many more hours in a month - and we know they're already stretched beyond the human limits of endurance and could all use a nice long vacation.) While Paizo is doing great, no company really wants to errode it's margins - so would the 2 pages extra lead to a quicker price increase, or some other negative impact? If so, I'd be fine with keeping the pre-gens, especially if they liven them up a bit with mixing in bits of APG material (like Harsk getting Crossbow Mastery in other APs, not just CotCT.

Since we had to reboot the rules, we have not yet come to a point where we've got the luxury of having pre-done files for the pregens. Replacing the 2 pages of pregens would actually SPEED up the process, since those two pages being absorbed by an adventure or one more new monster would be relatively low impact, since the pregens never really have a proper "in house time" set aside for them to be built.

Silver Crusade

I might be the only one but I use the iconics as a bit of a guideline for a reasonable level of equipment might look like for player characters of that level as well as feat choices that the designers thought might be useful. Admittedly the iconics don't use splat books, and aren't the strongest characters that could ever be built but they give me an idea of things that my players might not always think of.

I'm running CotCT right now and I have a dwarf ranger PC who, besides using a longbow and zen archery, looks an awful lot like Harsk which helps me understand a lot of the abilities to expect (as I assume the iconics are often designed to be reasonably sure of surviving the AP despite a lack of optimization). Admittedly not all of my PCs end up being similar to an iconic (certainly the Barbarian/Fighter/Shadowdancer won't be showing up any time soon) but it helps to know what is expected at certain points in the AP so I know if my characters are getting too much or too little treasure relatively easily (I have been putting in background stories between the AP books).

There are several other possible uses for these stats though I haven't had occasion to use them. I could always keep them in reserve to help the party out of a tough spot though I do run a game for a number of veteran gamers. The option is there if I do end up needing it and as a relatively nice GM I'm usually willing to help out if the characters were being reasonable and still got in over their heads. I'm honestly thinking of using them as a rival party in Kingmaker when I run that adventure to both harass and assist (depending on the situation) the PCs kingdom. I'm especially happy that they are present in the current APs since I'm not one to play Monks or Druids often and I honestly forget what all they can do (new abilities from new rules and all).

For what it's worth, I'm glad they're in but it won't be a deal breaker for me if the space was used for one more monster for the month or a bit longer of an article in the back or something. I just hope that maybe it would help to know that I do use them. The space wasn't wasted as far as I'm concerned.


Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Maps, Pathfinder Accessories, Pawns, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
James Jacobs wrote:
Would you feel the same way if we used those extra two pages to put in two more ads?

I would like something that adds to my game not ads.

I personally would rather have the pregens in case of a player's indecision ("Well, here. Use this character until a concept comes to you.") or a new player's arrival to the game table. ("Just so you can get use to the game, play this character... We'll get you more time with the rulebook soon.")


James Jacobs wrote:

We actually just finalized the iconics for this one yesterday. They'll be:

Merisiel (rogue)
Seoni (sorcerer)
Seelah (paladin)
Feiya (witch)

We're abandoning those restrictions as of yesterday.
All bets are off, now!

Now they're just going for the haawtness factor!

Grand Lodge

Guardianknight wrote:
stuff

I agree and ditto.

Whenever a new issue of AP comes to my door I check out the pregens too, for equipment and basic idea about what the current issue expects of PC characters. And I absolutely love the story bits every Char has.

also, I am tottaly exited with the idea of an all-girl pregen group. And I know that guys and gals in my team will be too :)
I so hope you don't drop the idea till January!!

Sovereign Court

I've only used the pre-gen stats once to playtest Burnt Offerings (and they died horribly, may Pharasma embrace their souls). I love the Paizo iconics, and I'm happy to have gotten to see their stats and get an idea of what those characters can do. However, as others have mentioned, it's true that such information could be available from a single source on the Paizo website, and free up two pages in every AP module. Seeing them re-printed in every adventure brings no added value for me. I would rather see it some additional content instead, or if that's too much of a hassle, I guess even some additional advertisement would be all right since it generates more money for you guys.


Adventure Path Charter Subscriber

I would like to see the two pages be used to show suggestions for further personalization. The reason the original Dragonlance adventure path was such a huge success was because the pre-generated characters had personalized events that were revealed as the adventures unfolded. These do not need to be fully fleshed out, but a list of brief suggestions, just a few words really, using the iconics presented in the first volume would go a long way. They would demonstrate to new and old GMs the areas that can be used effectively to incorporate a PC's background even more.

It would be great to see how an author envisions some of the captured murderers from Valeros's background being used in an AP, or a comment about a stick in a forest that Lini would find special, or a developing lead that Sajan might follow to his sister.

They would stimulate the GM's imagination, be an example of good adventure path customization, and show the many and interesting ways the iconics are all connected to the world of Golarion.

Liberty's Edge

Karelzarath wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:
So... what do folks use those stats for, anyway?

Everything from temporary replacement PCs to playtesting of upcoming sessions in my homebrew. Being able to grab middle-of-the-road stat blocks is amazingly handy, especially when the players attack an NPC I hadn't thought to stat up.

To weigh in on the witch iconic being used in an AP, I'm thrilled to see that the APG content isn't being excluded from other product lines. So often in 3.5, a new class/magic system/etc would be introduced in a hardcover and then never used anywhere else. No published adventures would feature it and no other books (except brief mention in the Magic Item Compendium) would reference it. Make me feel like most of the content was throwaway used only to sell a book. The fact that Paizo is keeping the subsidiary content alive and in people's minds makes me very happy.

+1


Pathfinder Card Game, Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Charter Superscriber
yoda8myhead wrote:
I think the pregens, once they've all been statted out at key levels, would make an excellent permanent download, like the traits document. Then a two page spread could be reduced to "download pregenerated characters from paizo.com/pathfinder/pregens" and people could pick their own party if they don't want to build their own PCs.

- I like this permanent download idea. I enjoy the iconics, and use them fairly regularly for either NPCs or ideas for lvl-appropriate gear.

- I would like to see the 2 pages used more specifically for the AP material.

- AP fiction. I think it should stay as is. As long as the setting of the fiction is relevant to the AP, it becomes an indispensable tool for the DM.


James Jacobs wrote:
If we have to make a choice between "not number crunched" and "flawed so that they'll make for more interesting characters," I think it's obvious which side we tend to err on. AKA: I'm not interested in officially entering the race to design the "best built" character. The internet's already won that race a thousand times.

Thankfully, James, that's a false dichotomy. I'd suggest merely reasonable characters, rather than characters that are so flawed that they have no chance of successfully completing the adventure in which they are included (e.g. The Skinsaw Murders, which is a meat-grinder for optimized characters)...


I just wanted to say as a group that plays at home and never at a gaming store, we never use pregenerated characters. About the only time I can remember using a pregenerated character ever, was at a con in Germany in 1996. The only thing I use them for is a quick power check for magic items. Just compare what the iconics have compared to what my players have.

Liberty's Edge

Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Subscriber
James Jacobs wrote:


So... what do folks use those stats for, anyway?

James, good question and here are my comments:

1) I realize that the pre-gens date back to 1st ed, but I really have not seen them used, outside some tournament games. In home games, I cannot remember seeing the PC's at the end of the module being used.

2) Building on the last point, I am used to seeing some sort of PC's listed at the end of the adventures/module, so if they were to stay or go, really makes no difference to me. To be honest, I really do not read through those pages.

3) I would be more interested in the pre-gens if they were actually used for playtesting by the designers. I am going to go out on a limb and say that I suspect that they were not used in the design of the adventures. I would also be more interested if the pre-gens are something other than the iconics. To me, seeing the stats on the iconics is not that important to me. I like the idea of posting them up on the Paizo web page. I am really more interested in the design notes and how the pre-gens were used in development of the AP.

4) I would be ok if those two pages were turned into ad space. Ideally I would like to see them turned into more useful content to me the customer, which would mean more adventure content, more monsters, special magical item summaries, other useful AP charts, more fiction, etc...

5) To the points that have already been made, I am concerned with system bloat. I get that the company has to make money, and that publishing is at the core of what you do. As long as you folks limit the number of splat books, I think that is a good thing. But with that said, I think there are plenty of avenues for Paizo to explore including novels, regional books, oriental adventure book, monster books, mega dungeon hardcover, Pathfinder basic (or Pathfinder light edition), Pathfinder modern/future. I am not a fan of the fighter books, and the wizard book, and the druid books...yuck! I would also be careful with adding a lot of skills and feats, as that is the one of the fastest ways to break a system.

6) As to the question about using APG in AP's, I am ok with that, as long as the key rules are included in the AP. I think Wes stated that was the intent, which works for me.

To summarize, I like the direction that Paizo is going in, and I think the team listens to customer feedback, which is important to me. I am very optimistic about the future of Pathfinder!

BTW, this AP looks awesome!

Grand Lodge

James Jacobs wrote:
Would you feel the same way if we used those extra two pages to put in two more ads?

No, not really. If I had to choose between two more pages of ads and the pregens, I would take the pregens. That said, it's not really the greatest feeling in the world to know that I'm paying for the same page of material over and over again. If I had to choose something that wouldn't add significant cost to the page (I'm guessing here as I have no expert knowledge of the costs involved), I would choose to have a page of regional map. At least that would provide reference material of the surrounding area quick without having to open up another book. It doesn't even have to be a newly drawn map, just a cut out of the section from already existing world maps.


I LOVE TO SEE THE ICONICS IN EVERY AP AND MODULE!!!

Why?

Because they have intresting backstories? No, not really, althoug I love their stories.

Because they help me introduce the game to new players? No, even at 1st. level some of them are to complex for the newbies to use right away.

Because they are playable PCs? HELL NO!!!

Then why? Why do I love them so much?

Because they are the very first gift that the Paizo team gave us.

SC, AoW an ST were awesome adventures, so it was logical to create a similar product when the Dungeon magazine died: welcome APs!

We needed a new world for these new adventures, so we got Golarion and the PF Campaign Setting.

A lot of people had invested in 3.5 and would not make the switch to 4ED. so it was good business to support and improve that system: PFRPG was born.

But the iconics are another thing. In the words of James Sutter:"...when we sat down to develop the iconics for Pathfinder, we knew going into it that what we came up with needed to be more than just easy art reference. These iconics needed to live up their name and represent our world, our ethos, and our whole idea of what gaming is about".

So, to me, the iconics represent the first time that Paizo recognized not the size of the wallet of its customers (like other companies did), but the voice of the gamers that have faith in them, in their ethos, and in their whole idea of what gaming is about.

Every time that I see two pages devoted to the iconics, to me, it´s like the people at Paizo are saying: "we know that all of you have a voice, and from may 7, 2007 to this day, we are listening".


I'm a brand new subscriber and as a result I've not run any of the APs yet, nor have I even seen the iconic stat blocks.
Still, I can foresee a couple of reasons that I'd be likely to use them:

1. I'm always looking for new players and invite people to watch my groups play. If someone was interested in trying it out after watching, having the iconic stat block would make it a lot easier for them to dive right in. This is especially true if they have a decent choice of characters to test drive.

2. I play and run pretty immersive games; if a PC dies, they can't just roll up a brand new character on the spot and get right back in. Usually there are a few NPCs who show up occasionally in the background that I'd let the player run for the rest of the session. I'll probably use the iconics for that same purpose and save myself the game prep time.

Ultimately, however, I think a lot of good suggestions were made. A downloadable web enhancement would work just as well, as would including the iconics only in the first book of the path.

I'm more inclined to use whatever material is handy to me, whether it's iconic stat blocks or something else. The ads wouldn't be my first choice as a replacement but if it helps the Paizo team to continue doing the superior work they do then I'm all for it. That's why I subscribed before even having a group to play with; I want to support you guys for all the great material you provide and for keeping the 3.5 rules alive.

Scarab Sages

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Card Game, Companion, Maps, Pathfinder Accessories, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Charter Superscriber

Now that there is a separate thread for iconics...

I am really looking foward to this AP. I wish that it was coming out before Serpent Skull actually. We will be wrapping up Crimson Throne and in the next few months and I planned to go to Serpent Skull next but now... I am hoping that we do not get done until December or January. I have been thinking about playing out all the needs to happen after Crimson Throne and maybe that will push us out far enough or we can do something else until this comes out.

I would run Serpent Skull and then this one but... It takes us at least a year and a half to play through an AP.

Loving all of the AP goodness from Paizo.

Thanks...

Silver Crusade

shadowcat wrote:

And I absolutely love the story bits every Char has.

Final word on Iconics: The background stories are very yes! Kyra is my favorite but Ezren and Lini are pretty interesting too.

As far as the adventure in question is concerned, I'm now switched over to a player and I am already trying to figure out what to play. Obviously Paladins and Clerics will be useful but I tend to play a lot of them.

Of more importance then my personal issues, I wonder just what direction this AP will take. I am not the biggest horror fan in the world but I have an easier time with monster movies than slasher flicks. HMM had a few moments in there that I, let alone my innocent elven wizard character, found a bit disturbing. Not to say they should completely cut out such things (I'm sure I'm outside the norm), but I'd like to see atmospheric horror more than tons of blood and gore. Admittedly, that's hard to pull off in a Pen and Paper setting in general (at least for me). Still, Scarwall I think is a good example of what I hope a lot of the AP will be like. I guess I'll just have to wait and see. Heh, I spoke of some personal issues after all.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

So um, it may seem out of place by now, but I have a question about this adventure.

Will the Harrowstone haunts use the updated rules that appeared in the GameMastery Guide? Or will the rules be different? I hope they're the same, as it's getting a little confusing, what with all the incarnations haunts have had...


Roagh wrote:

Grah! Can't wait for Imrijka to get some spotlight time.

does Half-orc victory dance

+1 on that

Would have thought Imrijka would have been a perfect fit fot this AP

Can't wait either way!

Paizo Employee Creative Director

Generic Villain wrote:

So um, it may seem out of place by now, but I have a question about this adventure.

Will the Harrowstone haunts use the updated rules that appeared in the GameMastery Guide? Or will the rules be different? I hope they're the same, as it's getting a little confusing, what with all the incarnations haunts have had...

The rules for haunts in the Gamemastery Guide are the final incarnation for those rules.

Dark Archive

James Jacobs wrote:
Generic Villain wrote:

So um, it may seem out of place by now, but I have a question about this adventure.

Will the Harrowstone haunts use the updated rules that appeared in the GameMastery Guide? Or will the rules be different? I hope they're the same, as it's getting a little confusing, what with all the incarnations haunts have had...

The rules for haunts in the Gamemastery Guide are the final incarnation for those rules.

[hypnotic glare] What we want is a book about new haunts and hazards... you know that, James, don't you? Give it to us! [/hypnotic glare]


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber

James,

Please, please use the APG and future content you intend to create in the AP!!!!!!! Just add some references to the book or a small explanation if needed! There is nothing more frustrating than buying a source book (with I'll keep on doing) that won't be used in any published module or adventure...I think content integration and continuity are key for a system to feel alive and evolving (and the AP is Paizo spinal cord)

Regarding the pre generated PCs please count my vote to replace them with more content (I would prefer playable content: 1 extra encounter, magic items, monsters or rules)

Regarding ads, you could probably use them differently in every issue depending the actual space it uses, not always 2 full pages…how about 2 half pages o several banner like ads and free up some space for more content?

Thanks

Dark Archive

Gorbacz wrote:
I kind of would advocate kicking the pregens from the APs, but I have a bigger axe to grind with the fiction, especially now that Pathfinder Tales are in a full swing. :)

I may be an odd duck but when I crack open the AP, i usually

1) read the fiction to get the jist of the AP

2) read the supplemental stuff, expecially if its geography based lore. I am a huge fan of historical lore and using it in game.

3) then finally read the meat of the AP If i plan on being the GM. We usually play in a large group and we rotate out GMs. I dont want to spoiler myself about the AP if I am going to play in it. If the other material was not in there, there would be no incintive for me to buy it if it was GM only.

As for Pathfinder Tales, I am struggling to get into that on the website. I don't know why. It may be the presentation of the page itself or the shortness of the tale. I am not sure. the presentation in the AP's draw me to it and gets me hooked quickly.

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