Throne of Night—Book #1: Dark Frontier (PFRPG) PDF

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CONQUER THE DARKNESS

Build an empire beneath the earth! The drow call this region of the underworld the Azathyr. It is a vast sprawling labyrinth full of wonders and horrors. For the unwary, it is a death trap. For the bold and resourceful it is a gateway to power and riches. Are you clever enough to tame this weird wilderness? Do you have what it takes to claim for yourself a Throne of Night?

Welcome to the first chapter of “Throne of Night,” a subterranean sandbox adventure path. Inside you’ll find:

  • “Dark Frontier,” a Pathfinder compatible adventure for characters 1st through 5th level written by Gary McBride
  • Full color maps and illustrations by Michael Clarke
  • Advice for running this campaign with an all dwarven party of noble explorers or an all drow party of wicked overlords
  • An optional system for creating divine patrons to support your band of heroes.
  • And more!

The quest to build your empire in the depths of the earth begins here!

A Pathfinder Roleplaying Game-compatible 110 page full color adventure with a printer friendly version and a 19-page full color handout file.

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A Breath of Fresh Air in the Stale Cavern of Adventure Writing

*****

I have been cautiously awaiting the release of this book ever since Way of the Wicked, FireMountainGames first product. The long wait did not disappoint, I have to say thinking back I am floored by the amount of value you get for only USD$10. In fact Throne of Night Book I: Dark Frontier is better even than Knot of Thorns (Book I of Way of the Wicked) because it explores an environment that is familiar to gamers, and yet holds many new interesting, unfamiliar elements as well.

Writing is absolutely top notch, not wasting a single sentence and written with Gary's usual flair for the dramatic, mysterious, and often humorous. FireMountainGames Adventure Paths are always better than Paizo's Adventure Paths because there is only 1 writer for all six books, so you get to see a (great) writer's holistic vision fulfilled, instead of reading through 6 different writers having their personal take on the same adventure - often lending Paizo Adventure Paths a schizophrenic feel.

Illustrations are gorgeous and really make this world, the underground cave system called the Azathyr, come alive and eat your adventurers. The maps are so beautiful, that I had to sit down and think why they really stand out from other products: the answer is asymmetry, unlike most adventures the maps here are of caves and strange underground structures which don't conform to the usual grid, yet the grid is present for utility nonetheless. An outstanding achievement by the artist, Michael Clarke. The only issue I have with the illustrations is that there is just not enough of them, specifically monster portraits. There are a lot of strange monsters found in the Fungle Jungle which don't have illustrations yet. Thankfully, the key figures are all drawn with a pen which feels like a fusion of old-school and new style of adventure artwork.

This Adventure Path is a Sandbox, meaning that it can be played out of order, especially the Middle Act. However, it does not mean this adventure is not structured. The First Act helps to set up the adventurers, the Middle Act really lets them explore the frontier environment, while the Third and final Act delivers a satisfying conclusion after working long and hard to reach the principal villain of this book.

I have to commend FireMountainGames for fully coming through on their promise to make this Adventure Path playable by two entirely different parties: good-aligned Explorers and evil-aligned Overlords. The difference isn't just a redressing, great effort has been put into place to make sure each party has its own unique experience: they start in different parts of the Azathyr, exploring all the same locations but often in different order compared to each other, each location might have slightly differing contents for each party, and often Overlords have the option of recruiting a lot of the minor villains they meet, while the Explorers have more opportunities to save some NPCs who are in peril by said minor villains. My only issue with the dual-campaign nature of this book is that while the Explorer campaign is written out clearly in order from cover to cover, the Overlord campaign is not as clearly described and often written out of order necessitating a lot of page flipping. In addition, and perhaps as a consequence of the above, the Overlord campaign is not as well written (even though it is more fun to play) leaving a lot of things open to GM interpretation to fill in gaps.

Overall, an amazing book, with an amazing value, filled with two amazing adventures, for an amazing price. A breath of fresh air in the stale cavern of adventure writing. And there are 5 more books on the way, starting with Book II which will introduce Kingdom Building elements, can't wait!


An Original & Intriguing But Overly Ambitious(?) Start

*( )( )( )( )

Hello all. I am a backer for Throne of Night and ,like many, I received my PDF copy this last weekend. I spent the last week reading through it and going over it and making sure that if I needed to run it on short notice that I would be ready.

It is definitely an ambitious undertaking on the part of Fire Mountain Games and I applaud their efforts for even attempting it. The trick is that Throne of Night may, in fact, be a little too ambitious.

The first module (and the rest as well) support two storylines. That of despotic drow "Overlords" and brave dwarven "Explorers". The story progresses differently for each, and care is given to make sure the experiences of each party are varied. Each encounter area is written with both storylines in mind. This includes different reactions and motivations from various NPC's and even extends to differing treasure for each group to find at each keyed area. Naturally, this had the effect of approximately doubling the word count for each encounter area. The end result is that, while the module has forty more pages of adventure content than the comparable Kingmaker module "Stolen Lands", It actually has the same number of encounter areas in it. The dual-storied nature of the AP took it's toll in terms of that doubled word count per encounter that I mentioned earlier. But, to be fair, this module has more replay value than most that I have read. Still, one must wonder, how much better this adventure might have been had the author not doubled his word count per encounter in favor of pursuing a single storyline. Of course this would also have had the effect of narrowing the target audience of this AP, so it is a give and take series of choices that I do not at all envy the author for having to make. They must have been difficult ones.

The production quality of the PDF is quite high, with full color pages throughout accompanied by wonderful original artwork. The PDF comes with a printer friendly companion PDF and a nineteen page Players Guide. My only unfavorable observation of the layout is the dark page backgrounds tend to obscure the (also) dark text making the PDF difficult to read for those with less than perfect vision. Again, to be fair, the printer friendly PDF is easily read (as it lacks the dark background)and is just as lavishly illustrated throughout.

In the back of the PDF the author uses several pages to supply potential GM's with troubleshooting tips for each of the AP's storylines. Although, for some reason, the "Overlord" storyline receives the lions share of attention in this troubleshooting area. Perhaps this is due to the inherent difficulties associated with running an evil party. Additionally, each storyline, both Dwarven and Drow, receives a set of optional campaign rules and traits designed to help the players create varied and capable all-dwarven and all-drow parties. Once again though, the author pays the price in terms of word count. Each race gets a few goodies and tips, but has to split the spotlight and page count of this section with the other storylines goodies and tips.

There was one thing that I had hoped to see in the module that was not there. There are some references to the use of the Kingdom Building rules and accommodations were made for their application to the AP in this module, but the impact of these areas was promised by the author to be explored in future modules and were not present in this one. Once again the afore mentioned limited word count exacts its toll upon the AP.

Throne of Night: Dark Frontier appears to be entertaining and fairly well written with a good replay value, but its ambitious scope provides widely disparate story opportunities for each group. It could be argued that there is two times the story within the covers, but I personally found the Explorer storyline to be unrewarding as it sets the players upon a quest and then provides very little in the way of furthering that quest in this module. Comparatively this module is a rewarding and thought provoking challenge for the Overlords as it provides their storyline with a good mix of conquest and intrigue. Essentials for an evil campaign.

Overall I would normally rate the module at three stars (two for the Dwarves and four for the drow, averaged), but due to its exceptional replay value, ambitious scope and the reasons below I am awarding only a single star. Is the Throne of Night project by Fire Mountain Games too ambitious for its own good? Only time (and a few more modules) will tell.

Just one huge glaring problem big enough to land a Boeing 757 on and store and maintenance it in. This company embraces apathy as a customer service policy. In addition to that they sell print copies of kickstarter stretch goals for months and months on end without ever bothering to supply their backers with those same stretch goals that they already paid for. Not that the backers have received any print copies of Throne of Night either, because they have not, despite the fact that they have been told several time to expect them "soon". First fourty months ago, then twenty-five months ago and most recently two Decembers ago. We have not heard a single word from Gary McBride in more than fourteen months. We were even promised a revised release schedule over sixteen months ago and even that has yet to materialize. No matter how good their work is, it is entirely overshadowed by their utter failures to keep their backers informed as well as provide them with the rewards that they were promised. I am awarding 1 star, and only because I cannot award zero stars. I will revise this if this company ever actually delivers on its promises to its backers.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Devastation Bob wrote:
Not sure if this is the place to ask but I had a question. In the fungus forest it says the glow extends darkvision but colors everything violet. I thought darkvision was black and white. Does that mean in the darklands it's black and white and purple?

The same thing occurred to me (so of course you're absolutely right about the RAW description of darkvision). Because I actually quite like the flavor of it, I've just decided to handwave it as a band or wavelength of light or radiation that happens in this highly unusual environment. If I had a rules-lawyer at the table who was somehow really hung up on it, I'd say the Pathfinder rules are the general and this AP rules are the specific, and specific rules are exceptions to general rules.


Odraude wrote:
I'd definitely run this, but see if I can get the players to play Dark Folk instead of Drow/Dwarves. Bestiary 4 has me really loving these guys.

would you just insert the dark folk as a player race.. making them like a "sub-race" associated with the drow, or totally re-write all the drow settlements to dark folk settlements ?

Grand Lodge

Grollub wrote:
Odraude wrote:
I'd definitely run this, but see if I can get the players to play Dark Folk instead of Drow/Dwarves. Bestiary 4 has me really loving these guys.
would you just insert the dark folk as a player race.. making them like a "sub-race" associated with the drow, or totally re-write all the drow settlements to dark folk settlements ?

Personally, I'd give the dark folk the same background that you can give kobolds, if your group wanted to play them. They're slaves to the drow, and they're going to do what they have to, to be free of their overlords.

But which version would you play as? There are three of them to choose from. Not to mention none of them are actually PC races. You'd have to play around a bit with the Advanced Races Guide to build them as base races. Purple Duck Games has a variant version on the Dark Creeper and made that into a PC race.
Or, if you're okay with it, zerzix has come up with his Savage Species book of Pathfinder monsters. The dark folk are all done as well.


sweet, thanks for the link


Hey Gary - could you please send me a code so I can get book two from DriveThruRPG?
I am going to beg now - PLEASE send me the code so I can get what I paid you for over a year ago...please? I've tried contacting you in ever conceivable manner and have been met with complete radio silence. Are you really a crook and a thief, because it certainly seems that way from my perspective.


I'm about to have the final push and finish up the module this weekend, then move onto module two. A few thoughts for DM's running this:

Spoiler:

I am glad I picked up the second book. I have allowed my players to start their kingdom immediately after saving Fasturvault. That's been a lot of fun.

I've included a lot more on the gnomish settlements that they mention in the book (Kladenvault).

I thought that it was unfortunate in a dwarven campaign that there were not any goblins and or/orcs that were in the campaign at all. Dwarves love to kill them, and Drow love to enslave them. Also, while the Xan and the Spiders are there, neither are made to be specific enemies per se. I placed a third settlement of goblins/hobgoblins down near the giant mountain, and also for fun game them the Blade of Vostenstadt, lost when the Drow assaulted Vostenstadt, when the Hammersvald sank. The PC's had a great time killing the goblins, recovering the ancient weapon, then finding the lost heir of Vostenstadt (Elias Lost-But-Not-Forgotten). He rallied his people with the return of the city. I gave them 20 free build points that could be used in Vostenstadt to rebuild.

The other reason that I liked that the goblins and orcs were there was that the module has a huge amount of beast like encounters. Non-thinking enemies, and very little intelligent creatures.

The maps are great on this, and I have used photoshop to blow them up to one square = an inch then copy them. They look great.

Also, while I realized that Gary could not include them, I want to encourage all the DM' for this to work in mind flayers, beholders and other enemies into this. I've placed a gauth in the random encounters, and my players flipped out during the encounter. It was great.

I'm considering replacing the bat people in book two with some illithids as well, as I'm not too keen on the bat people in general. Illithids scare the hell out of people.

Some things that would have been great to include:
1. How many build points would it take to fix the Hammersvald. My PC's are bound and determined. For book 3, he may want to consider the cost and stats for the ship as it may be used in the war with Tissarya in book 3.
2. Some notes regarding some of the other things around the tunnels in the other directions would be great. I've put in the Obsidian Citadel (Duerger that have the only access to Admantium) and now the legendary city of Xantool, the Beholder City that lies far away).
3. Some hints to the DM about what the super threat is in book 5 would be nice. Something below? I would like to start dropping hints besides the Xan god, but I have no idea.

Great module so far though. It has been exactly what I needed. A nice sandbox underdark adventure that I can work with and color outside of the lines when I feel like love it.

Grand Lodge

Prodigalson wrote:

I'm about to have the final push and finish up the module this weekend, then move onto module two. A few thoughts for DM's running this:

** spoiler omitted **...

It's unfortunate that D&D holds the sole rights to the creatures mentioned, but thankfully someone got around that and made a Book of Forbidden Lore, and converted specific creatures. Legally you still can't use them for published materials, but there's stopping you from using them in a homebrew game. Of course you're always welcome to use the original names too.

Could always make the bat people werebat illithid. That's even more frightening. Brain eaten, or contract lycanthropy. Lose/lose, really.

Hopefully Book 3 will be out soon so you won't have to divert the characters much, but there's lots of pregen adventures with spiders and/or goblins. There's even a raksasha that takes over a gnome community adventure.


REALLY want to jump on this because I loved WotW, but after all the shenanigans that have been going on with FMG of late, I'm going to wait til they are all out before splurging.

Grand Lodge

Wiggz wrote:
REALLY want to jump on this because I loved WotW, but after all the shenanigans that have been going on with FMG of late, I'm going to wait til they are all out before splurging.

Nothing wrong with waiting. A few of us who already did the Kickstarter are waiting before we run it as well.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Paizo, please do not support Gary McBride by selling his products. He shows no respect for his customers. He has ignored all our questions for over a year. He continues to support other kickstarters, using the money we gave him for books. He continues to solicit new customers while ignoring his old ones. This is simply unacceptable. We have no recourse but to take our grievances to his places of business.

Please do not purchase any products from Gary McBride until he learns some common decency.

Grand Lodge

I'll add this little tidbit for Book 1, and I'll make this spoiler free for those that haven't read the first book.

Book 1 end encounter:
The baroness that you meet at the end of Book 1 (whether you play drow or dwarf), is not CR 8. She's CR 9. Drow nobles are +1 CR due to all of their increased abilities and stats, and she has nearly 28k in wealth. That's another +1 CR. However, that's not what everyone's upset about. It's the fact that she's not proficient with armor. So? The rules state that she just gets double the armor check penalty. Mithral shirts don't have any. They do still have the 10% spell failure though. I can see Gary looking at that, and thinking the 10% mischance balanced things out. If it was breastplate or chainmail, I'd have been more lenient, but 10% isn't much of a handicap when you're a level 8 NPC. So, here's my suggestion. Make her CR 9. Gives the PCs the extra XP for defeating her. They deserve it. However, increase the wealth to the full 30k that she should have. How? 1) Give her armor the Caster Armor quality (Dragon Magazine 358, p39 for 400 gold, reducing her spell failure to 5%. 2) She has no neck slot item, and this is a 3PP adventure and we're not that concerned with copyright stuff with a homegame, so give her a Drow House Insignia (scroll 1/3 down the page) at level 2 for 2160 gold. Give her a 2nd level spell that you personally feels fits her drow house AND fits your version of the campaign world. This makes her 150 gold over, not including her spellbook and narcotics, but oh well. If wealth is a big deal for your campaign world, and you think this is too much, just give her a 1st level insignia for 360 gold instead of the 2nd level.

Grand Lodge

Just for kicks, I thought I'd start up a little tidbit, write-up, on this AP. It won't be updated nearly as often as Way of the Wicked though.

My Changes to Throne of Night, Book 1, part 1.


The end (Area Z) mentions a "gnomish balloon" found in area R.

I have searched the entire document and found no other mention of a gnomish balloon.

Author oversight?

Grand Lodge

Firstbourne wrote:

The end (Area Z) mentions a "gnomish balloon" found in area R.

I have searched the entire document and found no other mention of a gnomish balloon.

Author oversight?

Likely. I don't recall finding it either.

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