Gaming Paper Adventures: Citadel of Pain (PFRPG)

****½ (based on 7 ratings)
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Beware the Mad Baron’s Legacy!

Welcome to Rogthandor, a massive and crumbling fortress history has dubbed the Citadel of Pain. Years ago, Baronet Dumond imprisoned his citizens in the citadel, using them as test subjects for his twisted experiments. Dumond’s ambition was to construct the ultimate torture device in the belief that by consuming the agony of others he could turn himself into a god.

This Gaming Paper Adventure Includes:

Citadel of Pain is a massive, 80-page adventure for 7th-level characters. Written by Louis Agresta and Rone Barton, with stunning artwork by Joel Biske and Aaron Anderson, this adventure is compatible with the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game and Gaming Paper Adventures: Mega-Dungeon 1.

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****½ (based on 7 ratings)

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Quality writing and games design, so so publishing quality

****( )

I write bullet point reviews, K.I.S.S. words to live by.

The Good-Despite being black and white I love the game tile maps.
-Story is sandbox style which for me is big plus.
-Excellent storytelling throughout great relationship tracker system one could well reuse.
-rewards for the adventure are really keen with interesting long term effects.
-Not a hack and slash dungeon one could negotiate with the majority of the "enemies" in the citidel which is more than refreshing

The Bad -Gnome presented is more Dragonlance than pathfinder, his machine is a little gonzo for some campaigns.

The Ugly -I'd seriously pay more to have this in color with a better binding.

Overall I love this dungeon will use this dungeon will reuse elements of this dungeon, and at will add flavor to my kingmaker campaign. Only loss here is quality of print, I'll pay more for better quality seriously.


Side treks for PFRPG

****( )

If you want to add a weird fantasy element in your Pathfinder Campaign, I highly recommend Gaming Paper's Citadel of Pain. There are some Lovecraftian elements in the module that can be either enhanced or diminished depending on your GMing style.

Weird machines that can say weird, creepy things to the characters. Mutant monsters, some of which remind me of John Carpenter's The Thing(one of the best sci-fi horror movies of all time- my opinion anyway). Citadel of Pain has a few weird, unconventional touches to it that as a GM you can really run with and have a blast doing it.

The module works great as a unique location for Kingmaker, or even better, Rise of the Runelords (RoR)! I think this would easily fit in RoR due to the dungeon's plethora of unique and creepy mechanisms. This could be used as a long lost base of operations of one of the Runelords of Thassilon!! Think about it! Instead of using the Eureka's Rib, use a runewell instead!
The Citadel can also be put in Kingmaker as an old installation created in a desperate effort to combat the effects of the Choking Death in Iobaria (read up on it Kingmaker #33). Or the dungeon could be used as part of flawed experiment of the mysterious Cyclops empire of Koloran.
Or..or! The dungeon could easily be placed in the Carrion Crown Adventure Path; a stronghold of the Whispering Way, or simply a haunted location of a mad alchemist. You could plop this dungeon anywhere in Ustalav, and place undead in the dungeon instead of the monsters!
Aye folks, the possibilities are virtually limitless.
As a useful dungeon location for Pathfinder, whether it be in your homebrew or in the Pathfinder setting itself, GM's can't go wrong with Citadel of Pain.

The reason why I rated it 4 out of 5 stars is due to a few editorial glitches, nothing that can't be fixed by any enterprising GM though.


Trapped!

****( )

A couple of minor spoilers follow. You have been warned.

In spite of the criticisms which follow I feel that this dungeon would be worthwhile for most people. I read the print version of the module.

Having read several reviews on this dungeon I fully expected to love it, and I did enjoy it for the most part. I really enjoyed the social interaction aspect of the dungeon, but admit that there were times when I found it hard to believe that many parties would pause long enough for negotiation to begin. All four of the major races trapped in the dungeon are traditionally Chaotic Evil, which makes it hard to place into the typical Pathfinder setting. However, if you play with more alignment grey zone then the social interaction is top notch and there are some very interesting encounters. The module could certainly be run as a generic hack fest, but that loses almost all of the flavor behind the module. Failing to keep my suspension of disbelief cost 1/2 star.

The introduction also cost 1/2 star. In my experience Magic tech is very setting specific and you either love it or you hate it. I tend not to like it. Entry into the dungeon is via a mechanized Bulette drilling machine. This almost immediately jolted me out of a feeling of world neutrality into the perception that there were presumptions behind the world that I did not like. With some work the module could be modified to remove the magic tech, but I do not like having such a key element of the adventure interfere with the world view. In order to run the module as is, I would have to significantly modify either the setting or how the characters get into the dungeon. Other than that this dungeon could be placed in almost any Pathfinder compatible world.

There were a few minor editing errors, but nothing major. Final assessment 4 stars.


Almost Perfect

****( )

Really impressed with this one. As some have gone far in depth on the review, I will just say that i am pleased with the originality of this one and i highly recommend this adventure to any GM's.

I really like the idea of making adventures that have maps fully fleshed out for the whole adventure, and this one not only gives us that, but a remarkable adventure on its own as well.

Now, as much as i liked this one, i do have some small problems with it that caused me to drop from 5 to 4 stars ...

To start with some of the room descriptions did not seem to match up with what i was seeing on the maps. Not sure if this was typos in the text or not, but was a bit confusing.

My other problem was that among all the player handouts, and there were a lot, there was no map to hand out to players. Would make sense within the story line that many people of Rogthandor would have at some point made maps of the known areas. Would be nice to have such a map to hand out to players, with all secret areas not marked on said map.


My Part

*****

I was part of the kickstart for this project and have to admit i wish i could of done more :)
I started using the Maps and could not wait for the adventure to get to me.
I was and is a job well done


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First!

So, is this the adventure that Lou Agresta wrote?


Item Description wrote:
Citadel of Pain is a massive, 80-page adventure for 7th-level characters. Written by Louis Agresta and Rone Barton, with stunning artwork by Joel Biske and Aaron Anderson, this adventure is compatible with the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game and Gaming Paper Adventures: Mega-Dungeon 1.


Hmmm...I read all that and it still didn't click. Must get coffee...

Shadow Lodge

Does the PDF include all 100 sheets of Mega-Dungeon 1 ? (200 if you count both the furnished and unfurnished sides)


Kthulhu wrote:
Does the PDF include all 100 sheets of Mega-Dungeon 1 ? (200 if you count both the furnished and unfurnished sides)

Negative. They're not making the PDF available, even to Kickstarter sponsors. :(


What are the 24 map sheets that come with this? Is that addons to mega dungeon?


Coltaine wrote:
What are the 24 map sheets that come with this? Is that addons to mega dungeon?

Exactly right, Coltaine. We wanted certain map adjustments to better fit our exact concepts and Erik Bauer at Gaming Paper graciously allowed for and commissed new map sheets to come with our adventure. So they make the Mega Dungeon 1 map pack even a little bit more customizable.

This was already a pretty big adventure before we added all the handouts and those extra map sheets. :)


The Jade wrote:
Coltaine wrote:
What are the 24 map sheets that come with this? Is that addons to mega dungeon?

Exactly right, Coltaine. We wanted certain map adjustments to better fit our exact concepts and Erik Bauer at Gaming Paper graciously allowed for and commissed new map sheets to come with our adventure. So they make the Mega Dungeon 1 map pack even a little bit more customizable.

This was already a pretty big adventure before we added all the handouts and those extra map sheets. :)

Thanks! For the hard copy, are these extra map sheets seperate from the adventure?


Coltaine wrote:
The Jade wrote:
Coltaine wrote:
What are the 24 map sheets that come with this? Is that addons to mega dungeon?

Exactly right, Coltaine. We wanted certain map adjustments to better fit our exact concepts and Erik Bauer at Gaming Paper graciously allowed for and commissed new map sheets to come with our adventure. So they make the Mega Dungeon 1 map pack even a little bit more customizable.

This was already a pretty big adventure before we added all the handouts and those extra map sheets. :)

Thanks! For the hard copy, are these extra map sheets seperate from the adventure?

Okay, I just opened my copy and... yes indeed, they are seperate and of the exact same quality as the ones that come with the Mega Dungeon Map Pack 1. Nice!


2 people marked this as a favorite.

Lou and Rone are sick, sick men. I love it! There is so much goodness in this adventure...it makes me cackle with glee...can't wait to run this! One of the best adventures out there, i'd say, and i have only read a third of the adventure. Note that this is much, much more than a dungeon crawl- factions, twisted magical items, awesome little rules addons, not to mention the great maps.

Lou, you have gone on the "authors i'd buy on name alone" list (between this and the Great City Stuff...).

Sovereign Court Contributor

Dude! Wow! I'm totally blushing. Very glad you're liking it. Can't wait to hear a play report, my man. Enjoy!


I can't wait for my Kickstarter copy to show up...


Louis Agresta wrote:
Dude! Wow! I'm totally blushing. Very glad you're liking it. Can't wait to hear a play report, my man. Enjoy!

It's great....reminds me of the Lost City on crack. i like how complex it is too (might be tough to handle for a new GM). I can see your design influence with the heavy NPC interactions and open endedness, similar to the Great City.

I do suggest bookmarks for the PDF.

Dark Archive

Sounds pretty cool, something to check out when RL and money allows.


Dark_Mistress wrote:
Sounds pretty cool, something to check out when RL and money allows.

I'll post a review when time allows. The adventure has a lot of little bits [a new monster here, an extra feat for npcs there etc.] that require attention to detail.


Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Card Game, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber
Coltaine wrote:
I do suggest bookmarks for the PDF.

Absolute bare minimum for a PDF product. I will still purchase because of the authors, but honestly any pdf product should have bookmarks nowadays.


Coltaine wrote:

Lou, you have gone on the "authors i'd buy on name alone" list (between this and the Great City Stuff...).

But not me even though I was on those other adventures? That hurts, man. I need a jumbo gauge shot of novocaine for mine flickering ego.

I'm so glad you're enjoying the Citadel thus far. If you're a third of the way through, the next two thirds should maintain the bar's height Did you get to the Le Fantôme bugbears yet? >:)


Brian E. Harris wrote:
I can't wait for my Kickstarter copy to show up...

I saw your name on the back page of the adventure. My deepest thanks for supporting this adventure, Brian. I hope you get your copy soon.

Grand Lodge

The Jade wrote:
Brian E. Harris wrote:
I can't wait for my Kickstarter copy to show up...
I saw your name on the back page of the adventure. My deepest thanks for supporting this adventure, Brian. I hope you get your copy soon.

Not that the adventure itself isnt awesome, but I think the name in the back is the coolest thing about it. That means my name has appeared in an official rpg product before any of my friends, lol!

But seriously, the adventure is cool, and the map is amazing. Both are definitely worth the purchase if you didnt get on board on Kickstarter.


The Jade wrote:
Brian E. Harris wrote:
I can't wait for my Kickstarter copy to show up...
I saw your name on the back page of the adventure. My deepest thanks for supporting this adventure, Brian. I hope you get your copy soon.

Thanks! I'm sure I will - I'm just impatient and the USPS is a fickle mistress. I've got my PDF copy to tide me over until the Service gets it's act in gear. :)

Spoiler:
USPS adding tracking after so long may not have been such a "good" thing - I can't tell you how frustrating it is seeing a parcel hanging out in the Federal Way, WA sort facility for a week and a half, when I'm only a few short hours south of there!

I agree with godsDMit, if you weren't able to get into the Kickstarter project, and haven't bought a copy, by all means, snag this and the map! Awesome product by awesome people, and hopefully, we'll see a lot more of the same!


The Jade wrote:
Coltaine wrote:

Lou, you have gone on the "authors i'd buy on name alone" list (between this and the Great City Stuff...).

But not me even though I was on those other adventures? That hurts, man. I need a jumbo gauge shot of novocaine for mine flickering ego.

I'm so glad you're enjoying the Citadel thus far. If you're a third of the way through, the next two thirds should maintain the bar's height Did you get to the Le Fantôme bugbears yet? >:)

Love the dreaming bugbears, its pretty awesome...what was the Gazateer for Sinister Adventures you worked on? I finshed my first perusal and the adventure is pretty awesome, i love the ending...some interesting choices and consequences.


godsDMit wrote:
The Jade wrote:
Brian E. Harris wrote:
I can't wait for my Kickstarter copy to show up...
I saw your name on the back page of the adventure. My deepest thanks for supporting this adventure, Brian. I hope you get your copy soon.

Not that the adventure itself isnt awesome, but I think the name in the back is the coolest thing about it. That means my name has appeared in an official rpg product before any of my friends, lol!

But seriously, the adventure is cool, and the map is amazing. Both are definitely worth the purchase if you didnt get on board on Kickstarter.

It's an honor to have both our names in print together again! You of course recall the first time was when the newspaper ran that piece about our arrest for participating in that alligator wrasslin' circuit. Man did we know how to entertain back then. Still sad about losing Ernie though.

And thanks for the kind words.

Brian E. Harris wrote:


I agree with godsDMit, if you weren't able to get into the Kickstarter project, and haven't bought a copy, by all means, snag this and the map! Awesome product by awesome people, and hopefully, we'll see a lot more of the same!

Very cool. Thank you so much.


Coltaine wrote:
The Jade wrote:
Coltaine wrote:

Lou, you have gone on the "authors i'd buy on name alone" list (between this and the Great City Stuff...).

But not me even though I was on those other adventures? That hurts, man. I need a jumbo gauge shot of novocaine for mine flickering ego.

I'm so glad you're enjoying the Citadel thus far. If you're a third of the way through, the next two thirds should maintain the bar's height Did you get to the Le Fantôme bugbears yet? >:)

Love the dreaming bugbears, its pretty awesome...what was the Gazateer for Sinister Adventures you worked on? I finshed my first perusal and the adventure is pretty awesome, i love the ending...some interesting choices and consequences.

That Gazetteer was a sandbox for space adventure. Fun book, and finished, with lots of great gaming options. I created a few worlds for it and enjoyed taking on the lion's share of intriguing, iconic NPCs. Sinister seems to have stopped putting anything out and no one actually owns the Gazetteer at this point. It may see print one of these days. I put it in my credits back when I thought it was near release.


The jade wrote:

That Gazetteer was a sandbox for space adventure. Fun book, and finished, with lots of great gaming options. I created a few worlds for it and enjoyed taking on the lion's share of intriguing, iconic NPCs. Sinister seems to have stopped putting anything out and no one actually owns the Gazetteer at this point. It may see print one of these days. I put it in my credits back when I thought it was near release.

You should see if you can put it out; sucks that great products dont see the light of day.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

This looks really cool, but can I just clarify as I've been slightly confused about this product from the early announcements. Does this include the adventure and all the maps I need to run it? ie, is the Gaming Paper: Megadungeon accessory optional or required - 'Can be used with' or 'Must be used with'. I see it includes 24 new maps, but is that all you get in terms of mapping out the adventure?


theneofish wrote:

This looks really cool, but can I just clarify as I've been slightly confused about this product from the early announcements. Does this include the adventure and all the maps I need to run it? ie, is the Gaming Paper: Megadungeon accessory optional or required - 'Can be used with' or 'Must be used with'. I see it includes 24 new maps, but is that all you get in terms of mapping out the adventure?

Yes it includes all the maps you need to run it. The 24 new maps are to scale where you can use them on the tabletop [i.e., gaming paper]. The large overview map is not; if you want to use "gaming paper" then buy the magadungeon accesory where you can simply lay it out on the table, otherwise, you'll have to draw it out or use other means.


Hi all, been following the posts here. Can someone please describe what you are looking for with regard to "bookmark"? I want to make sure you get what you want. In talking to my layout and design guy, he is wondering if you mean bookmark links from the table of contents? Or, is this some other kind of bookmark. Let me know! I am interested in making this the best product possible.


Personally, I like to dead-tree versions/print out all my adventures and thus don't necessarily need adventures. As a reviewer, though, I recognize the fact that today many people use laptops/e-readers in their game. Thus bookmarks are important and in the best of cases, they go beyond chapter headers and include side-boxes to help navigation.

With bookmarks, I generally mean the feature of the adobe-reader that enables one to click on specific headers that can be displayed via clicking on the bookmark-tab to the left.

At the very least, I'd expect chapter header bookmarks.

I hope I could be of assistance and look forward to finally getting my hands on the signed dead-tree copy and the tiles. :)

All the best,
EZG


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Coltaine wrote:
theneofish wrote:

This looks really cool, but can I just clarify as I've been slightly confused about this product from the early announcements. Does this include the adventure and all the maps I need to run it? ie, is the Gaming Paper: Megadungeon accessory optional or required - 'Can be used with' or 'Must be used with'. I see it includes 24 new maps, but is that all you get in terms of mapping out the adventure?

Yes it includes all the maps you need to run it. The 24 new maps are to scale where you can use them on the tabletop [i.e., gaming paper]. The large overview map is not; if you want to use "gaming paper" then buy the magadungeon accesory where you can simply lay it out on the table, otherwise, you'll have to draw it out or use other means.

Perfect. That explains everything. I don't use miniatures much so don't have a huge use for tabletop maps - but I do like to see where I'm going!

Thanks for the clarification. Will definitely buy this as I'm a sucker for large adventures and print products.


Endzeitgeist wrote:

Personally, I like to dead-tree versions/print out all my adventures and thus don't necessarily need adventures. As a reviewer, though, I recognize the fact that today many people use laptops/e-readers in their game. Thus bookmarks are important and in the best of cases, they go beyond chapter headers and include side-boxes to help navigation.

With bookmarks, I generally mean the feature of the adobe-reader that enables one to click on specific headers that can be displayed via clicking on the bookmark-tab to the left.

At the very least, I'd expect chapter header bookmarks.

I hope I could be of assistance and look forward to finally getting my hands on the signed dead-tree copy and the tiles. :)

All the best,
EZG

Pretty much. and probably more important in this adventure since its very non linear.


theneofish wrote:
Thanks for the clarification. Will definitely buy this as I'm a sucker for large adventures and print products.

Well alright! Please let us know what you think, theneofish (I was so tired of traditional fishes, and I'm rather glad you came along when you did.)

Sovereign Court Contributor

I just heard from the publisher that Citadel of Pain is selling tremendously well here at Paizo, and I just wanted to thank all you Paizoans who picked it up...

Thanks! The Paizo community is second to none!

Dark Archive

Louis Agresta wrote:

I just heard from the publisher that Citadel of Pain is selling tremendously well here at Paizo, and I just wanted to thank all you Paizoans who picked it up...

Thanks! The Paizo community is second to none!

Well you guys did a good job on the Urban Adventure, the Bloody Fix was a very good urban adventure. So this on my list of things to buy when RL and money allow. Of course I still need to finish the other 3 Urban Adventures and get them reviewed too. :)

Sovereign Court Contributor

Dark_Mistress wrote:
Louis Agresta wrote:

I just heard from the publisher that Citadel of Pain is selling tremendously well here at Paizo, and I just wanted to thank all you Paizoans who picked it up...

Thanks! The Paizo community is second to none!

Well you guys did a good job on the Urban Adventure, the Bloody Fix was a very good urban adventure. So this on my list of things to buy when RL and money allow. Of course I still need to finish the other 3 Urban Adventures and get them reviewed too. :)

Check your inbox, DM. You too Endzeitgeist!

Liberty's Edge

3 people marked this as a favorite.

I'm really happy to see this up on Paizo, and gratified by the warm reception it has gotten already! Lou and Rone really turned it up to "11" for this thing and put my maps to spectacularly good use!

Dark Archive

2 people marked this as a favorite.

Right now give it a once over glance. All I can say is number 6 on the master grade chart is disgusting and sounds really painful for men. :)


Dark_Mistress wrote:
Right now give it a once over glance. All I can say is number 6 on the master grade chart is disgusting and sounds really painful for men. :)

Exceptionally so. I thought that entry might make for some truly interesting roleplay, and possibly a lasting, running joke.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

DM - When we were play testing I went with the unwavering ironclad mindset that those were really only meant to be used a currency. ONLY as currency. I broke my own rule way too early when I was near deaths door...the results were disgusting, hilarious, and are still talked about around the table every time we play. I lived.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
The Jade wrote:
theneofish wrote:
Thanks for the clarification. Will definitely buy this as I'm a sucker for large adventures and print products.
Well alright! Please let us know what you think, theneofish (I was so tired of traditional fishes, and I'm rather glad you came along when you did.)

Traditional fishes have had their day. It's time for the new piscine order!

I shall indeed, although by the time books crawl to this side of the Atlantic I've usually forgotten I've ordered them. Which makes for a pleasant surprise.


That Gaming Paper Guy wrote:
DM - When we were play testing I went with the unwavering ironclad mindset that those were really only meant to be used a currency. ONLY as currency. I broke my own rule way too early when I was near deaths door...the results were disgusting, hilarious, and are still talked about around the table every time we play. I lived.

Oh DO tell. Unless it isn't family friendly.


theneofish wrote:
The Jade wrote:
theneofish wrote:
Thanks for the clarification. Will definitely buy this as I'm a sucker for large adventures and print products.
Well alright! Please let us know what you think, theneofish (I was so tired of traditional fishes, and I'm rather glad you came along when you did.)

Traditional fishes have had their day. It's time for the new piscine order!

I shall indeed, although by the time books crawl to this side of the Atlantic I've usually forgotten I've ordered them. Which makes for a pleasant surprise.

I've had that happen so many times. Things I've ordered take so long to get to me that, upon arrival, they become an unexpected gift to self.

"Oh... why thank you, me."

Frog God Games

theneofish wrote:
The Jade wrote:


Well alright! Please let us know what you think, theneofish (I was so tired of traditional fishes, and I'm rather glad you came along when you did.)
Traditional fishes have had their day. It's time for the new piscine order!

Where do I sign up? :)

P.S. To Louis, Rone, Christopher and Gaming Paper, this looks like a fun project. It is really nice to see such a colaboration of talent.


Dawn R Fischer wrote:
theneofish wrote:
The Jade wrote:


Well alright! Please let us know what you think, theneofish (I was so tired of traditional fishes, and I'm rather glad you came along when you did.)
Traditional fishes have had their day. It's time for the new piscine order!

Where do I sign up? :)

P.S. To Louis, Rone, Christopher and Gaming Paper, this looks like a fun project. It is really nice to see such a colaboration of talent.

Thanks, Dawn! Devising an adventure to accompany an already crafted, sprawling Chris West map is like having to best an army of chocolate truffle monsters on an empty stomach. For a game designer it creates... an anti stress.

And Lou's professorial understanding of an adventure's clockwork... all those details that make a story truly playable, is the only reason I'm even able to write them. Left to my own devices, my adventures would probably run like sparkling, rainbow-hued tar pits. Great ideas on paper that make for equally great kitty litter.

I think these guys just keep me around for my overly generous lap dances, where I wear a sexy, crinkly outfit fashioned from glued restraining orders. What can I say? I'm a giver.

Frog God Games

The Jade wrote:
Dawn R Fischer wrote:
theneofish wrote:
The Jade wrote:


Well alright! Please let us know what you think, theneofish (I was so tired of traditional fishes, and I'm rather glad you came along when you did.)
Traditional fishes have had their day. It's time for the new piscine order!

Where do I sign up? :)

P.S. To Louis, Rone, Christopher and Gaming Paper, this looks like a fun project. It is really nice to see such a colaboration of talent.

Thanks, Dawn! Devising an adventure to accompany an already crafted, sprawling Chris West map is like having to best an army of chocolate truffle monsters on an empty stomach. For a game designer it creates... an anti stress.

And Lou's professorial understanding of an adventure's clockwork... all those details that make a story truly playable, is the only reason I'm even able to write them. Left to my own devices, my adventures would probably run like sparkling, rainbow-hued tar pits. Great ideas on paper that make for equally great kitty litter.

I think these guys just keep me around for my overly generous lap dances, where I wear a sexy, crinkly outfit fashioned from glued restraining orders. What can I say? I'm a giver.

Now I am wondering how to sign up for those. :)


Dawn R Fischer wrote:

Now I am wondering how to sign up for those. :)

You've been preapproved actually.


We will be uploading an updated version of "Citadel of Pain" tomorrow. Now with 100% more bookmarks, broken into two files (File 1: adventure and handouts File 2: maps), and a few(honestly just three)misprints cleaned up.

Thanks for the help, pointers, and recommendations.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Part 2 of my review (Contains spoilers, players, please jump to the conclusion):

The final faction are Riddle's End's Ogres, three-eyed intelligent ogres (wizard class levels, baby!) obsessed with magic and subsequently out for the PC's tools. The deceptive ogres actually can prove to be a significant challenge, as they prepare one of the smartest and deadliest ambushes I've seen in quite a while in their partially submerged complex- the PCs will definitely remember the clever ogre's assault. The hidden altar of the ogres, a grisly spine-snapping chair, sunken and yet possibly repairable. Have I mentioned a water elemental and its pet octopus or the possibility of the PCs flooding a region of the citadel?

And then there's the slog, a kind of common ground to which the PCs will frequently have to return on their subquests. Sooner or later, the saviors from Without (the term for "from outside the citadel") will come to the attention of Gabrele, a _GOOD_ ogre to assassination attempt, minotaur recruitment drives etc., the PCs will have their hands full and you as a DM enough fodder to make the citadel feel even more alive. More importantly, the slog offers the PCs something to fight for - the unique culture of the citadel, as mentioned earlier, its endearing slang and the fact that here of all places, while besieged by mad factions, humanoids and men have begun an probably unprecedented, more or less peaceful coexistence, at least among the general populace. This rather strange yet endearing utopia, based on a claustrophobic equilibrium of power, is about to come crashing down with the PCs finding the lower condensing room where a nasty surprise sits ready to initiate the furious climax of the adventure.

Act 3 features the condensed sentient alchemical waste hinted at in the bazaar during the very first encounters, a dread and deadly ooze. made out of gallons of discarded alchemical waste. To make matters worse, the deviceless finally move into open action trying to bury the PCs alive buried and sealed in dumondite - but to no avail. At this point, the undead (and surprisingly nice and cooperative) gnomish engineer might offer the final clues for the activation of the Eureka Rib, which initiates the epic final confrontation of the module: Here the faction-tracker will come in handy - the PCs and their allies as well as the opposition are up for an epic showdown, having the PCs try to get past several attack squads and offering a very cool cinematic run, finally facing off against Grandmaster Sinas Crabbe of the deviceless. After this showdown, a PC (or ally!) will have to brave the unimaginable agony of being subjected to the Eureka Rib (or destroy it and escape thus) and thus choose the fate of all Rogthandor: Freedom for all, escape for but the PCs and continued confinement for the inhabitants or an escape for the PCs alongside a devastating self-destruction that kills everything inside - quite a weighty decision to thrust upon the subject's shoulders, after all, while the inhabitants are peaceful now, who can tell how they'd react to life outside? Do they remain relatively docile, becoming the PC's faithful army? How do the humans react, with prejudice or even a pogrom? Or do the humanoids revert to their usual clichés, ravaging the lands? If the PCs killed all, how can they live with such a genocide at their hands? And what to make of the ribs significant permanent (yet not overtly game-influencing) powers like stopping to age? And what of Vilspeth? The possibilities are endless.

The pdf also features stats for optional assassins, a list of magic items by value, 8 pages of lovingly-crafted hand- outs (which should be standard - handouts are GREAT and help immerse the players in the story), a one-page version of the faction tracker and two pages of the handouts of the torture-device visions.

The pdf closes with the additional sheets to expand the mega-dungeon.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any glitches - the few that existed in the first version have all been taken care of. Layout adheres to the clear two-column standard, is b/w and features aesthetically pleasing borders. The inside artwork is b/w and ok, though nothing to get too excited about. The pdf is EXTENSIVELY bookmarked, with each subchapter, encounter etc. there, including the CRs - commendable and a boon for the DM.

I'm not the biggest fan of large dungeons, at least most of them tend to degrade into "Kill all"-sprees or fail to present sufficient social/infiltration changes of pace to keep my attention. Some dungeons are well-enough designed in their craft to have me ignore this time and again, Necromancer Games and its heirs being among the prime examples. But then there are some dungeons that don't feel common. That feel different. Like e.g. the classic Banewarrens. The Citadel of Pain stands tall and proud in this tradition, feeling completely unique in being not a dungeon to wade through and slaughter anything that crosses your path (though that's an option, too!), but instead combining political intrigue and mystery of urban adventures with the claustrophobic and hostile environment of a dungeon.

It took forever to write this review, if only due to the fact that I was hard-pressed to give you even an essential overview of the possibilities and imaginative potential of this environment - the society Lou Agresta and Rone Barton crafted rivals e.g. the strange societies of China Mièville in imaginative potential and iconic quality. Even better, the duo of authors have managed to create an adventure, that thanks to the tracker makes it easy for the DM to handle complex faction politics and ensure modularity. The crowning achievement of adventure-writing any sandboxy adventure, at least to me, is utter modularity and freedom of choice. While printed adventures always have to somewhat rely upon minor guidelines to ensure the story works, I've rarely seen an adventure that can be modified this easily and I guarantee that no two ventures to Rogthandor will be the same - there are that many possibilities.

The climax, the sentient altars - there are a lot of great ideas herein and, sometimes, adventures make players ask themselves questions: Is it right to slaughter all these humanoids that don't hurt anybody and are oppressed by cruel ruling castes? Is it right to eradicate the sentience of an intelligent item begging for quarter, even if it's evil? Where does being a hero end and being a murderer begin? Even if the general populace is not evil, is it right to release them into the world? The repercussions of the successful adventure are wide and might upset the social order of a certain stretch of land (and I haven't touched upon the boons for the PCs...), offering adventure ideas galore and the sympathetic cultural hodgepodge in Rogthandor potentially points towards questions of culture, identity and racial understanding. While not the easiest adventure to run and definitely not one to run spontaneously, Citadel of Pain ranks among the most rewarding, iconic, complex and thought-provoking dungeon-adventures I've read in quite a while, supported by a commendable amount of handouts, map-sheets and awash with creative ideas. Have I mentioned the subtle and gratifying humor that is interspread within some of the encounters and e.g. the demipotion-lists? I'm running out of superlatives to heap upon this awesome piece of writing and thus will just say that, if I could, I'd rate this 6 stars - my final verdict will be 5 stars and the Endzeitgeist seal of approval. If you're even remotely intrigued by dungeons or any of the things I mentioned, do yourself a favor and check this out. You won't regret it.

Endzeitgeist out.

...This concludes my 300th review here on Paizo. Thanks to everyone who keeps reading my ramblings!


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Reviewed here, on RPGaggression and sent to GMS magazine. Cheers!


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Great review End. Pretty mich echo my thoughts. Even stat blocks are interesting in this adventure.


I was nervous about this big review on the mouse clickety path to reading it this morning.

I'm so glad you enjoyed the adventure and I thank you for making this your 300th review (we are honored) and for going so thoughtfully in-depth.

Rock!

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