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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I want this for the cover alone.


doc the grey wrote:


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!

Next wednesday CANNOT come fast enough....

THANKS

Dark Archive

1 person marked this as a favorite.

The Leng stuff is awesome, we need a 100% Lovcraftian/Mythos AP extravaganza!!!


1 person marked this as a favorite.
bigkilla wrote:
The Leng stuff is awesome, we need a 100% Lovcraftian/Mythos AP extravaganza!!!

The Dream-Quest of Zon-Kuthon, maybe? ;)


Any more details about the Leng article? And what´s in the bestiary?

Thanks for the information!

Dark Archive

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

Three Mythos monsters: the bhole, the flying polyp, and the nightgaunt.

Kurshu the Undying, herald of the goddess Lissala.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Albus wrote:

Any more details about the Leng article? And what´s in the bestiary?

Thanks for the information!

Bestiary: flying polyp (CR 14), dhole (CR 17), nightgaunt (CR 4), and Lissala's herald (CR 15). The adventure itself actually features several other variant and/or advanced monsters such as the Leng ghoul (CR 10), advanced gug savant (CR 15), advanced skull ripper (CR 11), and advanced caryatid column (forget CR - this is all from memory).

The Leng article is done in the style of a gazeteer. We get a rundown of Leng's history/location, several iconic residents, and some key locations. Nothing mindblowing and very much in keeping with Leng as has been presented in the past, yet still very cool. Enough info to run several adventures here.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Now to geek out. Shatterd Star hasn't been my favorite AP to date, but this adventure really makes it worth it - for a Lovecraft fan, Nightmare Rift is just incredible. It's also a cool foil to Wake of the Watcher. While Wake dealt with the Lovecraftian themes of cosmic and aquatic horrors, this one is very much a homage to his stories of dreams and nightmares. Two very different adventures, yet both profoundly Lovecraft.

I have to ask though: given that this is the Leng adventure, why no denizens of Leng? Was that just too obvious?

Paizo Employee Creative Director

Generic Villain wrote:

Now to geek out. Shatterd Star hasn't been my favorite AP to date, but this adventure really makes it worth it - for a Lovecraft fan, Nightmare Rift is just incredible. It's also a cool foil to Wake of the Watcher. While Wake dealt with the Lovecraftian themes of cosmic and aquatic horrors, this one is very much a homage to his stories of dreams and nightmares. Two very different adventures, yet both profoundly Lovecraft.

I have to ask though: given that this is the Leng adventure, why no denizens of Leng? Was that just too obvious?

No denizens of Leng because they're a bit low-level for the adventure. They would have had to have had class levels or something, and that would have required full stat blocks, and we didn't have room for even one more full stat block.

Sczarni

I have yet to run this campaign, let alone this adventure. But I feel underwhelmed by Cadrilkasta (I'm not spoilering this because her mini has been revealed).

close your eyes, players!:
Cadrilkasta felt like your run of the mill Blue Wyrm with a few shinies added on. I was expecting more magic items, better tactics, etc. I honestly feel robbed that she was the possessor of the shard of sloth, thus effectively disabling her danger level.

These are, as always, my opinions. I'm certain the adventure can still be epic (especially with tweaking). Like I said, I'm just underwhelmed.


Does the article on Lassila "imply" .....or out right SCREAM any particular build for one of her clerics ?

Paizo Employee Creative Director

Icaste Fyrbawl wrote:

I have yet to run this campaign, let alone this adventure. But I feel underwhelmed by Cadrilkasta (I'm not spoilering this because her mini has been revealed).

** spoiler omitted **

These are, as always, my opinions. I'm certain the adventure can still be epic (especially with tweaking). Like I said, I'm just underwhelmed.

She's pretty tough as it is... but if you feel that she needs to be tougher, that's what's great about tabletop RPGs. You can make it so.

We don't want to make her TOO tough right out of the book, since she has to be tough but a "midline tough." It's no good if every single Shattered Star campaign ends before the last adventure because we made the penultimate boss too unbeatable...

Sczarni

James Jacobs wrote:
Icaste Fyrbawl wrote:

I have yet to run this campaign, let alone this adventure. But I feel underwhelmed by Cadrilkasta (I'm not spoilering this because her mini has been revealed).

** spoiler omitted **

These are, as always, my opinions. I'm certain the adventure can still be epic (especially with tweaking). Like I said, I'm just underwhelmed.

She's pretty tough as it is... but if you feel that she needs to be tougher, that's what's great about tabletop RPGs. You can make it so.

We don't want to make her TOO tough right out of the book, since she has to be tough but a "midline tough." It's no good if every single Shattered Star campaign ends before the last adventure because we made the penultimate boss too unbeatable...

I understand your stance. That would be a bit embarrassing (or memorable? We remember the stories about 3.5 Xenesha). She's tough, I guess I expected more magic items, different tactics than the standard dragon (which she has some, I admit). I felt like the "hand"icap seemed like a way to tone the challenge down. I know if I found this out as a player, I may feel robbed of the entire challenge. That's where I'm coming from on that front.

And you're right, I can make it so. I have plans to do just that. Just voicing a design opinion. Who are we without critics, right?

Liberty's Edge

Got some Tomb of Horrors vibe reading through some of this.


3 people marked this as a favorite.

Just got.

Big thanks to all the people responsible for the Lovecraftian goodness here.

Want wamps, want urhags, want want want Dreamlands content, want Golarion's Dreamlands.

I hope 200 people favorite this post so I have 200 favorites in one post I mean so I get more Dreamlands stuff!!!!!!


1 person marked this as a favorite.

I want......I want.....a hotdog, no I mean a chili dog,....

"SPAULLLLLLDING! YOU'LL GET NOTHING AND LIKE IT!!!!!"

A Caddyshack quote oughtta get me some props.

Dark Archive

5 people marked this as a favorite.
Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

Isn't AP #46 out of print, and so won't people who pick up this volume have a hard time using the adventure if they aren't willing to go the PDF route? At this point, don't we basically NEED a "Lovecraft and the Inner Sea" book to collect and get all that material back out into general access? 32 pages of bestiary, 32 pages of fluff and maybe some villain-related crunch? Or maybe a Cthulian Nightmares Revisited-type book, at least?


Yes, we need it. My precious.

Shadow Lodge

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
Kvantum wrote:
Isn't AP #46 out of print, and so won't people who pick up this volume have a hard time using the adventure if they aren't willing to go the PDF route? At this point, don't we basically NEED a "Lovecraft and the Inner Sea" book to collect and get all that material back out into general access? 32 pages of bestiary, 32 pages of fluff and maybe some villain-related crunch? Or maybe a Cthulian Nightmares Revisited-type book, at least?

With this guy, in a few months we may be hearing what the dragon demands but I believe the fans have spoken and they demand all that wonderful lovecraft in one beautiful paperback, it's just too much raw awesome to not be condensed in one amazing tome.


Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Pathfinder and traditional D&D chromatic dragons have always been rather Meh for me as a whole. If this is in stores already I'll pick it up for the Lovecraft references.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Just when I thought I was OUT, they pull me back IN!


if anything in this life is certain ... if history has taught us anything ... is that you can kill anyone ...

Scarab Sages

Al Pacignome wrote:
if anything in this life is certain ... if history has taught us anything ... is that you can kill anyone ...

If it bleeds, you can kill it. If it doesn't bleed, it just means it's going to be a little more difficult to kill. Adapt and overcome. ;-)

Scarab Sages

Is anything from this Adventure Path release going to be approved for PFS play? I was surprised to see that nothing has been approved by this point. Can anybody from Paizo chime in on this?


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Tarrintino wrote:
Is anything from this Adventure Path release going to be approved for PFS play? I was surprised to see that nothing has been approved by this point. Can anybody from Paizo chime in on this?

Take a look back up at the product description. This, and the rest of the Shattered Star volumes, have been sanctioned for PFS. The chronicle sheets and rules are at the bottom of the product description. The new hardcover, anniversary edition of Rise of the Runelords has also been recently sanctioned.

Scarab Sages

Joseph Wilson wrote:
Tarrintino wrote:
Is anything from this Adventure Path release going to be approved for PFS play? I was surprised to see that nothing has been approved by this point. Can anybody from Paizo chime in on this?
Take a look back up at the product description. This, and the rest of the Shattered Star volumes, have been sanctioned for PFS. The chronicle sheets and rules are at the bottom of the product description. The new hardcover, anniversary edition of Rise of the Runelords has also been recently sanctioned.

I was thinking more about item availability beyond just the Adventure Path itself being available, Joseph. Trying to see what new items are available for purchase for my PFS characters.


Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Picked this up and I see a bunch of things I am lifting for my own campaign even if I butcher the entire series for parts this has been a great series even if I am not hot on the meta-plot. Basically I see Shattered Star as a retelling of sorts of Rod of Seven Parts just as I see Rise of the Runelords as a kind of retelling of Against the Giants and Second Darkness was a Pathfinder version of Vault of the Drow. I would like to humbly make a request for a future AP: Please do a Pathfinder version of Expedition to Barrier Peaks. You have a place to set it in the Inner Sea.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Have any Brits got their physical copies yet? Mine was posted on the 11th, and it STILL hasn't arrived. Should I be worried? :-/


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

__Bump__

Have any Brits got their physical copies yet? Mine was posted on the 11th, and it STILL hasn't arrived. Should I be worried? :-/

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Well I've got mine here in NZ!


Pathfinder Adventure Subscriber

And mine arrived in Sweden last week.


Is the height of the Guardians monument inside the back cover correct? It says they are 200 feet tall. The Arvensoar is only 100 feet higher than the Summit but says that this is one of the things that can be seen from miles away. If the Guardians are 200 feet tall, that puts them as 100 feet taller than the Arvensoar. They are fairly close by and that would totally overshadow the awesome Arvensoar.

Just clarifying to make sure that these statues are in fact 100 feet higher than the Arvensoar.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

The height is correct. The Guardians are one of the largest monuments in Magnimar.


Ok thanks. I also noticed that Shadow Clock is also taller, being 250 feet tall, which would make it the tallest free standing structure in Magnimar, though underneath the Irespan

For some reason, I just thought the Arvensoar was the tallest object on the skyline, oh well.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

The Shadow Clock is taller from base to top, but it is also significantly farther downhill from the Arvensoar. Although I am curious how much distance there is between the peak of the Clock's roof & the arch of the bridge span.

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Card Game, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Irnk, Dead-Eye's Prodigal wrote:
The Shadow Clock is taller from base to top, but it is also significantly farther downhill from the Arvensoar. Although I am curious how much distance there is between the peak of the Clock's roof & the arch of the bridge span.

Runelords specifies that it is 'barely 5 feet from the Irespan's stone belly'. It also specifies that the shadow clock is over 180 feet, not 250.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

GmJasonGURPS wrote:

Ok thanks. I also noticed that Shadow Clock is also taller, being 250 feet tall, which would make it the tallest free standing structure in Magnimar, though underneath the Irespan

For some reason, I just thought the Arvensoar was the tallest object on the skyline, oh well.

Nope; the biggest object of the Magnimar skyline is the Irespan, of course...

HOWEVER!

If you're down on the Shore, remember that the Arvensoar stretches a 100 feet ABOVE the Summit... which means from the Shore, the Arvensoar looks like it's 400 feet tall. Because from there, it is!


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Paizo Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Ha, reading about "You stand in the presence of the most glorious mistress, Lady Xaivanshee of Zura, third daughter of House Rasivrein” reminded me of a certain "daughter of the Fifth House of Betazed, holder of the Sacred Chalice of Rixx, and heir to the Holy Rings of Betazed." Maybe I'll let that influence me how to play her. Sounds fun.

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