Pathfinder Adventure Path #65: Into the Nightmare Rift (Shattered Star 5 of 6)

3.40/5 (based on 5 ratings)
Pathfinder Adventure Path #65: Into the Nightmare Rift (Shattered Star 5 of 6)
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Chapter 5: "Into the Nightmare Rift"
by Richard Pett

With five shards of the Shattered Star secure, visions point the PCs toward one of Varisia’s most remote corners as the site protecting the sixth fragment of the powerful artifact. Yet the heroes are not the first to search for this shard—upon arriving at the ancient ruin known as Guiltspur, they find a small army of giants excavating the site on the order of a blue dragon. Even this is not the entirety of the danger, however, for as the heroes soon learn, there are other forces searching for the final shards as well—some hailing from the Darklands below, and some from beyond reality in the nightmare realm of Leng!

This volume of Pathfinder Adventure Path continues the Shattered Star Adventure Path and includes:

  • "Into the Nightmare Rift," a Pathfinder RPG adventure for 13th-level characters, by Richard Pett.
  • Previously unknown secrets about H. P. Lovecraft’s famous Plateau of Leng in a special gazetteer of this strange realm of dreams and horrors, by Greg A. Vaughan.
  • The lost and ancient secrets behind the forgotten faith of Lissala, goddess of runes, fate, duty, and obedience, by Sean K Reynolds.
  • Alchemists and wererats in the Pathfinder’s Journal, by Bill Ward.
  • Four new monsters, including Lovecraftian horrors and Lissala’s herald, by James Jacobs and Sean K Reynolds.

Each monthly full-color softcover 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 world’s oldest fantasy RPG.

ISBN–13: 978-1-60125-487-0

Into the Nightmare Rift 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 (512 KB zip/PDF).

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

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3.40/5 (based on 5 ratings)

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Fun, but disconnected set-pieces

3/5

I ran this for a group of four PCs with standard rules all-around.

For me, this was the weakest offering so far in the otherwise excellent Shattered Star adventure path. And I am not saying this because it is the fifth dungeon crawl in a row (because, come on, you want to complain that the dedicated dungeon AP has too many dungeons?!) but because it is the least cohesive one so far. Pretty much everything, from the reason the Guiltspur was built in the first place to the denizens of the different levels feels a bit jumbled.

That is not to say that a lot of encounters by themselves are not loads of fun. Some examples:

Spoiler:
The initial approach and the fight with the giants was a blast. I mean, stampeding mastodons-on-fire levels of fun!
The encounter with the body-switched astral deva and nalfeshnee was also a fun situation.
Finally, the battle with the shoggoth-brewing moon beasts was terrifying, even though my players did not realize that they could use the shoggoth for their own purposes.

The problem with all of these examples is that you could cut them out of this adventure and drop them into any other with little to no work. While this is great for people who buy AP books to mine them for material they can use in their own campaign, I was disappointed of the randomness, especially when compared to the other excellent books of this AP.

Lastly, the final fight was a bit underwhelming. When you tell a level 15 party what kind of creature they are up against, they will arm and prepare themselves accordingly. So the inevitable happened: the party stomped the final villain in 3 rounds with hardly any major injuries. That was not as much of a problem for us because my players enjoyed the sense of accomplishment that their preparations paid off but it might irk other groups who are looking for more of a challenge in a boss fight.

In summary, I enjoyed running this book but it never really reached the greatness of any of the previous four books.


A Fifth Dungeon Done Right

4/5

I feel like Shattered Star is starting to suffer some dungeon fatigue, but the installments keep on chugging with interesting new dungeons. This one in particular definitely hits some Lovecraftian high points.

It also has some interesting set pieces and allies.

I'd like to take a second to point out the development of dragons wearing their hordes (and actually having their magical items in their art). I think this is one of the best developments in dragons for a long time.

Also, the gazetteer of Leng and details on Lissala are worth it alone.

Overall: A really neat adventure that suffers a little because it's the fifth dungeon crawl in a series of dungeon crawls.

Years Later: I ran this and it turned out very well. I introduced Cadrilkasta's children as a foil to the party early, so they were excited to take on the mastermind.

Beyond that, the dungeon sections ran smoothly with a variety of interesting themes but didn't feel like they had the same depth of character as some of the other installments.


Awesome villain sub-par storyline

3/5

My review style is bullet point, isn't that easier to read?

The Good: -Villain is awesome (cover art a big hint why)
-Giants and magma and dragons oh my!
-Good battles throughout excellent rewards.\

The Bad: -Another dungeon, this one with a thin reason for its existence.

The Ugly: -I hate encounters like the one with the drow here, too convenient just so happens ect...
-I don't buy the dragon giving up a shard to find another shard...

Overall: Another great dungeon but story is a disappointment after book 4.


Thouroughly enjoyable dungeon

4/5

In the fine tradition of Shattered Star, this is an awesome dungeon crawl. Only reason I dropped a star off of my rating here is that it is relativley short on anything other than stright up crawling through a series of cool, room by room encounters. It certainly has the right feel for a high level dungeon crawl- everything from the location to the atmosphere to the sotry feels sufficently epic. Unlike some other chapter in the shattered star AP which I felt were rather standard in their difficulty level, this one is going to TOUGH in the PCs with some of the hardest encounters in the campaing so far.

Great dungeon, I'm sure it will be a hackload of fun to play through, but it lacks that "something special" to elevate it. For example, "Curse of the Lady's Light" (Shattered Star #2) had tons of roleplay potential and the entire dungeon felt alive, belivable and magical, and the inclusion of Grey Maidens was handled very well. "The Doomsday Door", the previous adventure in this AP, had a memorable villain that the PCs learned about during the adventure and that provided a very satisfying finale to the dungeon. Here, there's just one cool room after another.


Competent adventure but not inspiring

3/5

Read my full review on my blog.

I must confess that I haven’t actually read much Lovecraft (my geek cred just went way down, I suppose). However, I have learned about many of the concepts through other sources and I find them endlessly fascinating. So it’s perhaps a bit strange that Into the Nightmare Rift doesn’t quite do it for me. It’s a competent dungeon crawl, but therein lies some of the problem, I think. A dungeon crawl doesn’t feel the right style to do such a nightmarish reality justice. Going from room to room, killing monster after monster (which is what a great deal of this adventure is) doesn’t really allow for a building of dread and suspense, which I feel is really needed (especially for something with the word nightmare in the title).

That said, I should stress that I don’t consider this a bad adventure. My problems with it mostly come down to personal taste. In this respect, it’s similar to Shards of Sin, the first part of Shattered Star, in that it’s a competent, well-designed dungeon that just doesn’t grab my attention all that much. Nonetheless, it’s an adventure that probably many people are going to love because it will grab their attention.


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Sczarni

Aw, man. I think I have a new favorite AP cover.

And judging by the description of the contents, I may have a new favorite AP chapter, too.


What was your old favorite?

Can't wait to read about Leng as well.

Paizo Employee Managing Developer

2 people marked this as a favorite.

Greg did a great job on the Leng gazetteer! He put a ton of information into a fairly small article. I think people are going to be jazzed about the map in that article.


I'm just looking for an onyx mine. Nothing to see here.

Sczarni

Dragon78 wrote:

What was your old favorite?

Can't wait to read about Leng as well.

Cover or chapter?

Cover: Legacy of Fire 6, The Final Wish.

Chapter (of the ones I own): Probably Carrion Crown 2, Trial of the Beast.


I hope the Leng article gives us some info on Unknown Kadath.


Okay, I will be running this AP after we finish SD.


How similar is the Leng stuff going to be to the Leng stuff from Chaosium's Dreamlands, I wonder.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Spanky the Leprechaun wrote:
How similar is the Leng stuff going to be to the Leng stuff from Chaosium's Dreamlands, I wonder.

They're both inspired by the same sources. As a result, pretty similar, although not exact.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Does anybody know how far it is from Lelag Leng to the abandoned monestary of The High Priest Not To Be Described?

I gotta Dreamlands map from Chaosium but it doesn't have any scale on it.

How big is Leng supposed to be?

Paizo Employee Developer

That kinda depends on the visitor.


So reality is mutable there then, is what I'm guessing.

Contributor

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Spanky the Leprechaun wrote:

Does anybody know how far it is from Lelag Leng to the abandoned monestary of The High Priest Not To Be Described?

That's the third time I've been asked that question today...these are fine boards to be on:)

Dark Archive

Richard Pett wrote:
Spanky the Leprechaun wrote:

Does anybody know how far it is from Lelag Leng to the abandoned monestary of The High Priest Not To Be Described?

That's the third time I've been asked that question today...these are fine boards to be on:)

Mr. Pett, nobody has asked you anything for a week -- on these boards or anywhere else. Once again it is those damnable Voices in your head...

Contributor

The voices! The voices are back!


I found something, but.....it was on the internet. Not sure how reliable it is, but the guy drew a really nice map, so maybe he knew what he was talking about.

Looks like Lelag Leng oughtta be about 1-2 days' travel from the monastery of the High Priest Not To Be Described as the shantak flies.

Dudes on yak, though, look like they have some mountaineering to do.


Nevermind; by the Chaosium Dreamlands map, and a quote from the book saying such and so a place is two days' zebra ride from some mountain with a skull head,.......I reckon it to be about 300 miles or so from Lelag Leng to the monastery.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

I just dropped some green on this today from the website; not subscribed or anything.

If it says "pdf available Dec 19th," I'm just curious when I could expect it to get here?


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Spanky the Leprechaun wrote:

I just dropped some green on this today from the website; not subscribed or anything.

If it says "pdf available Dec 19th," I'm just curious when I could expect it to get here?

Well I imagine that depends where "here" is.


Republic of Texas.

Dark Archive

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
Spanky the Leprechaun wrote:
Republic of Texas.

Also depends on your shipping methods. I'm on the cheapest possible and it takes up to 2 full weeks after shipping date to get my subscription orders to the west edge of Houston.


Good to know; thanks!


James' comments on the evolution of the Sihedron have got me wondering: did Lissala's image change along with it? Would an early Azlanti idol give her a non-hooked star for a head?

Scarab Sages

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Adam Daigle wrote:
Greg did a great job on the Leng gazetteer! He put a ton of information into a fairly small article. I think people are going to be jazzed about the map in that article.

How do you map Leng? Isn't the geography ever-shifting?

Also, just got my order notice, super excited and eagerly awaiting my shipping notive now. Every writer in this book has done something I loved for Pathfinder. I can barely wait.

Paizo Employee Developer

Stratagemini wrote:
Adam Daigle wrote:
Greg did a great job on the Leng gazetteer! He put a ton of information into a fairly small article. I think people are going to be jazzed about the map in that article.

How do you map Leng? Isn't the geography ever-shifting?

Also, just got my order notice, super excited and eagerly awaiting my shipping notive now. Every writer in this book has done something I loved for Pathfinder. I can barely wait.

The map is certainly more an artistic representation rather than a map that you'd plot a course by. For example, there is no scale included because that would be fairly impossible.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

Evil Midnight Lurker wrote:
James' comments on the evolution of the Sihedron have got me wondering: did Lissala's image change along with it? Would an early Azlanti idol give her a non-hooked star for a head?

No. In fact, the star-headed winged serpent form of Lissala isn't actually her only form—she has a more human form as well (albeit one with wings and no mouth).

The Sihedron artifact's the only one that lacks the normal "hooks" in the arms of the star.


I am so looking forword to tha Lassala article....the wait is killing me.

Webstore Gninja Minion

The Lissala article is fantastic...and her herald is equal parts terrifying and pitying.

Silver Crusade

I wanna meet that article![/finn]


Wow! What a gorgeous cover. Love the dragon. Also, threats from the Darklands? I've got my fingers crossed for drow. I wonder if the Plateau of Leng will have any Desna tie-ins...

Shadow Lodge

Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

Looking forward to the herald! These have been hit and miss,with some truly brilliant ones, and some err...moments - Herald of Torag? Hammer mouth? I like the idea of equal parts terror and pity, sounds interesting. What I'm really hanging out for is the bestiary - more lovecrafty goodness AND leng! Plus I want to see the stats on that Dragon, I'mhaving a hard time equating it to the survival of 15th level snacks, err..adventurers

Silver Crusade

Cat-thulhu wrote:
I like the idea of equal parts terror and pity, sounds interesting.

srsly, that's been eating at my mind. Terrifying and pitiable like the Prince in Chains? Or instilling terror and showing pity like...something else? So many interesting ways that could go, either way.

Glad I pre-ordered!

remembers that he put a 7-16 day ready-to-ship item in the cart too

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

Scarab Sages

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Cat-thulhu wrote:
Looking forward to the herald! These have been hit and miss,with some truly brilliant ones, and some err...moments - Herald of Torag? Hammer mouth? I like the idea of equal parts terror and pity, sounds interesting. What I'm really hanging out for is the bestiary - more lovecrafty goodness AND leng! Plus I want to see the stats on that Dragon, I'mhaving a hard time equating it to the survival of 15th level snacks, err..adventurers

I liked the Giant mecha of Torag. It fit Torag pretty well. Of course, now I can't help but think of Dwarves as Mad Scientists living in large subterranean volcano lairs building giant mecha....

But Lissala's Herald.... All we really know about Rune Magic (Lissala's area of interest) is that it gave rise to Thassilonian specializations and that it allowed Xin and the Runelords to enslave dragons and giants. I'm betting on mind control abilities. or at least some sort of enslaving ability.


I don't buy APs in case I'm ever a player in them. I don't want to spoil it. I would however like to know what kinds of giants will be in this "small army of giants"? I'd also like to know if there will be any names giants (ones with different art). Mostly I want to get an idea of what might come in the pawn set. I needs me more Frost & Fire Giant pawns dagnabit! >.<


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Arikiel wrote:
I would however like to know what kinds of giants will be in this "small army of giants"? I'd also like to know if there will be any names giants (ones with different art). Mostly I want to get an idea of what might come in the pawn set. I needs me more Frost & Fire Giant pawns dagnabit! >.<

spoiler:
Based on the cover there are definitely fire giants. There might be other breeds too. There's at least one unique giant (the "lumbering thug" of a leader), and while I can't say for certain that he gets art because I don't have this issue yet... yes, he will definitely get art. He might even be the soon-to-be-decapitated fire giant on the cover.

Me wants my copy!!!


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

This AP has had some really strong titles for the individual adventures, but this one is a stand out for me. Something about Into the Nightmare Rift just says awesome to me. Much like the title for the film Beyond the Black Rainbow.


Pathfinder Companion, Maps, Pathfinder Accessories, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Arikiel wrote:
I don't buy APs in case I'm ever a player in them. I don't want to spoil it. I would however like to know what kinds of giants will be in this "small army of giants"? I'd also like to know if there will be any names giants (ones with different art). Mostly I want to get an idea of what might come in the pawn set. I needs me more Frost & Fire Giant pawns dagnabit! >.<

Spoiler:
Nor Frost, but part one of the adventure is lousy with Hill and Fire Giants.
There are named ones of each with the new arts which I would be very surprised if they aren't in the pawn set.

PDF arrived, skipping ahead to Lissala...

Interesting stuff. I can see her getting along with other deities of knowledge, even with alignment issues. (Reaching beyond Golarion, she and Lhankor Mhy would make terrific study-buddies. :) )

As evil deities go, Lissala seems tolerable. Hers is a perfunctory sort of evil born of excessive strictness rather than cruelty, I think.


Leng... *shiver*

Good: you used the correct spelling of Inganok. Bad: I actually prefer Inquanok. :)

...That denizen of Leng is wearing really good prosthetic feet over his hooves. I wonder where he shops? Or who he chopped them off of?

Okay yeah this is creepy as heck, and a potential bridge to Earth for GMs who like that idea. Although you'd probably wind up in shoggoth-infested Antarctica, so good luck surviving that!


Pathfinder Adventure Subscriber

"Guiltspur is located about 530 miles northwest of Magnimar." under "Approaching Guiltspur".

Shouldn't that be 530 miles northEast?

-- david
papa.drb


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

On two occasions, the book refers to the Shard of Sloth as a "necromantic artifact." Isn't its school conjuration?

Shadow Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

K just got my pdf and flipped to the bestiary. Outside of the other great lovecraft stuff floating around in here I just want to congratulate whomever wrote Krushu, that was probably one of the best heralds I've read so far and potentially one of the best npc's I've read all year. That article makes me want to play lissala worshipper just to bring that character into play. There is just so much there to work with as a gm, to rp, and to rp off of as a player. Want more characters like that. Also she's a great example of abilities representing character with all of her major abilities helping to reinforce the character that is written on the page loved that and examples of how she uses some of her spell likes to help her control those just makes it all the better.

Paizo Employee Developer

doc the grey wrote:
...I just want to congratulate whomever wrote Krushu, that was probably one of the best heralds I've read so far and potentially one of the best npc's I've read all year....

That would be the mighty Sean K Reynolds!

Shadow Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
Adam Daigle wrote:
doc the grey wrote:
...I just want to congratulate whomever wrote Krushu, that was probably one of the best heralds I've read so far and potentially one of the best npc's I've read all year....
That would be the mighty Sean K Reynolds!

Who I thought, Sean excellent work it really helps sell how alone she is man and your ability synergy is solid. Now i need to get someone to gm way of the wicked or maybe shattered star so I can run a sloth wizard of lissala.

Scarab Sages

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Krushu is so sad and empathetic a Herald. If I want to Sacrifice one of my Party Members (A Chaotic Neutral Tiefling, an outsider! though technically a Native outsider), to her, would that be possible?

Paizo Employee Creative Director

Mechalibur wrote:
On two occasions, the book refers to the Shard of Sloth as a "necromantic artifact." Isn't its school conjuration?

Oops; yeah, that's true. It's a conjuration artifact.

Spoiler:
But one that the drow needs for the necromantic ritual to conjure Zura's power to become a vampire.

Evil Midnight Lurker wrote:

PDF arrived, skipping ahead to Lissala...

Interesting stuff. I can see her getting along with other deities of knowledge, even with alignment issues. (Reaching beyond Golarion, she and Lhankor Mhy would make terrific study-buddies. :) )

As evil deities go, Lissala seems tolerable. Hers is a perfunctory sort of evil born of excessive strictness rather than cruelty, I think.

I was hoping her alignment was going that direction ;)

Is there enough information to play a cultist of Lissala ?
Any mechanical suggestions ?

Shadow Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
nighttree wrote:
Evil Midnight Lurker wrote:

PDF arrived, skipping ahead to Lissala...

Interesting stuff. I can see her getting along with other deities of knowledge, even with alignment issues. (Reaching beyond Golarion, she and Lhankor Mhy would make terrific study-buddies. :) )

As evil deities go, Lissala seems tolerable. Hers is a perfunctory sort of evil born of excessive strictness rather than cruelty, I think.

I was hoping her alignment was going that direction ;)

Is there enough information to play a cultist of Lissala ?
Any mechanical suggestions ?

Yeah, her herald alone begs for some pc summoning. Check above I've said somethings on this. Besides that yeah they really help sell you on how degraded and left behind a lot of them feel in the modern world with many followers having to hide their faith in other religions and having to stomach their false praise. Think this might be one of my favorite god's articles to come out yet.

Now we just need some more in depth articles on the great old ones and their cults throughout time (specific ones rather then just the overview we got in carrion crown) with some summons lists and spell replaces and we'll be in business!

Silver Crusade

All of this Lissala talk.

Need this.

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