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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Are there errors or omissions in this product information? Got corrections? Let us know at store@paizo.com.

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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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Shadow Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

This is their new ap following up way of the wicked correct?


Yep.

Sovereign Court

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Hmmm, I supported them on KS. Did anyone else not receive an email yet?

Shadow Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Does this use the exploration rules from Kingmaker, bring me new monsters, or some new archetypes?


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Adventure Path, Tales Subscriber

I got an email via kickstarter.... but only with a DriveThruRPG option. Since I don't particularly want to have to sign up with DriveThru, I have not gotten it yet.

I'm hoping that he can clear getting the pdf through Paizo instead.


@doc In this module, it does not. Those things I believe are coming with the next few modules.

@callous jack From what I've seen on the KS forum, it looks like the emails have been sent out in waves, I think I got mine Friday or Saturday evening, and some folks had some issues where the link didn't work correctly, but that was on the store's end.


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

I got this a little early due to the Kickstarter and read through it over the weekend. Huge thumbs up. It is not a rehash of Way of the Wicked (which is itself quite excellent). Instead, it goes a different direction with a more sandbox-style campaign. The book pulls it off quite well and the two adventure approach (Dwarves or Drow) also seems to work. This is only the first book and so the back of the book is mostly about character creation and possible campaign themes. This is consistent with the approach in WotW, in which the extra fluff and crunch (e.g., archetypes, spells, feats, etc.) was provided in the following books. Artwork and maps are top notch. My only gripe is I'd have liked to see the NPCs fleshed out a bit more. The level of NPC detail in WotW was awesome; this AP will probably require the GM to develop more of those characters, but on the other hand gives the GM a lot more flexibility with the sandbox.

Having never played a Kingmaker campaign, I really can't compare, but having picked up the Ultimate Campaign book (which expands on Kingmaker's systems), I'm assuming the intent is to begin making that a real option in the coming books. The overland map style strongly suggests it, as do the...

descriptions of various locations.:
(e.g., this would make a great marble quarry, this would make a great iron mine, you could build a castle here at half the cost, etc.).


Any release date for a print/pdf combo here? thanks!


doc the grey wrote:
Does this use the exploration rules from Kingmaker, bring me new monsters, or some new archetypes?

No exploration rules yet, and no archetypes. Don't think there are any new monsters - but they do make use of Tome of Horrors and don't just use paizo's bestiaries.

Apart from the adventure you get:

  • A section on character creation for the 'good' side - including variant dwarf attribute bonuses and traits.
  • A section on character creation for the 'evil' side - including variant drow attribute bonuses and traits.
  • A guideline on how to set up a divine 'patron' for the AP.

It's a meaty adventure by AP standards. The adventure section runs from page 3 to page 95.
By comparison WotW book one went from page 3 to page 77

There is a separate file with nineteen pages of cleaned up maps / player handouts.

Grand Lodge

I've received mine as well. Haven't have a chance to read through it yet.


Two things immediately spring to mind...

A) Whoa, Gary actually got around to finishing this! Everyone thought that he dropped off the face of the earth.

B) Anyone remember Benorus from Chronicle of the Righteous? Being the patron of good-aligned subterranean creatures, I think he'd fit in just fine here.

Seriously, Drow Cleric of Benorus. Like a Drizzt clone, but less stupid because s/he has a religious justification for not being evil. Hell, why stop there? Drow Paladin of Benorus!


Just read a bit of the book, haven't even really touched the adventure itself yet, but already the wheels are spinning. I think my game group will likely go with drow for this one. One thing that has already popped into my head:

Spoilery:
I think that I will try to make the curse have a real, mechanical effect for the game. I'm thinking of going with only 6 drow siblings (the 6th daughter of a 6th daughter; also I have six players), all males, so in drow society the lowest of the low. I think the curse will work thusly: if, by their action or inaction, another of their siblings falls, they all feel it. Mechanically I picture it working as the character that would die (due to blood loss or massive damage), stays at just one hit point away from death while the others still live. However, any further damage that would kill the PC is spread out amongst the others as a whole. So while at one point a character bleeding out at 1 hp per round means one other PC in the group takes that point of damage instead; if the dying character takes a massive hit, the damage gets spread around as evenly as possible among the others. They either stand together or die as one (possibly quite slowly). I have no plan to reveal this information to them for quite some time, I'd rather they figure it out. The demon lord made them for a purpose, it will not see it's wishes failed by pathetic mortals.

Granted, I won't get to run this for a while. Have to finish WoW (1/2 way there!) and they want me to run my homebrew game for a bit as well. But I'm hoping that by the time other things are wrapped up that all the books for this path will be out.

And another thing popped into my head: tying WoW and a villain victory into the Explorer storyline could work really well.


yeaaaah baby. Nevertheless before ordering i'll wait for the PDF+ print out. Unless gary says we can buy the PDF and then the discount for print

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber

This looks way cool. I want to run it as a sequel to my Kingmaker game some day. For now though I'm excited about the prospect of competitive teams of Explorers vs Overlords exploring the Underdark.


DM - Voice of the Voiceless wrote:

It's a meaty adventure by AP standards. The adventure section runs from page 3 to page 95.

By comparison WotW book one went from page 3 to page 77

There is a separate file with nineteen pages of cleaned up maps / player handouts.

wahooo as expected it was worth waiting. ^^


Just bought the pdf. Haven't read it yet, but first impression is very good. Nice layout, dense text, a lot of crunch

Sczarni

Gary, you complete me!!!!

- Flynn

Sczarni

And btw, I second the thought of hoping to see this downloadable from Paizo as well for those of us who went through the kickstarter. I try to purchase all of my downloads through Paizo so I have all my downloads available from one source....

Just my $.02

- Flynn


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

@ John Malueg (and anyone else) regarding that section you put in spoiler...

Spoiler:
That's an interesting approach with respect to the "curse". Do you (or anyone else reading this) have concerns it will make the PCs too powerful? Short of a TPK, it will become very difficult for any one PC to die. Doesn't this remove a degree of risk (and thus some of the fun) from the game?

I'm just trying to play devil's advocate here. I actually quite like the idea and am thinking of adopting it for when/if I get to run this. But I'm trying to think of possible downsides to this approach.

Sovereign Court

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
John Malueg wrote:
@callous jack From what I've seen on the KS forum, it looks like the emails have been sent out in waves, I think I got mine Friday or Saturday evening, and some folks had some issues where the link didn't work correctly, but that was on the store's end.

Thanks John, hopefully I'll be in the next wave then!


@SnowHeart

Spoiler:
Thanks, and you are absolutely correct, it does make it very difficult for an individual PC to die. For me, I'm okay with that on AP's like this because it makes the story flow better when I don't have to shoehorn in a new PC character. My players like the bonds they forge between characters, and I like to see it. Plus, in a CE game such as this, I know that certain players would target certain other players relentlessly, mostly because they could and they have wanted to mess with the other person for ages (My game group is six people I've gamed with for at least 5 years, if not more than a decade).

In my homebrew game, the PC's are effectively immortal as well, although their immortality comes with a price. In that one (where they are the heroes), if they die, they come back to life a round later, but within the next 24 hrs a location near them will have a wave of death followed by an undead uprising based on how powerful the PC (or PC's) were that died. At one point, Death sat them down for a little chat about this; Death was not pleased.

I also have no intention of telling them what the curse is doing, either. I plan to keep track of their hit points myself, in addition to them keeping track of them. They won't be aware of the hit point loss (unless using a spell to track hit points), just that they are beginning to fatigue and not feel so great, and it keeps intensifying. I just hope at some point something large and aquatic swallows one of them so the others have to go chasing after it to keep themselves from dying. Or an enemy captures one of them and tries to kill that one, and inadvertently starts killing the others over the course of time.


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

@John Malueg

Spoiler:
I can definitely see that being a fun and memorable moment of tension! I'm going to chew on this for a while and see what Gary releases in the coming books.

Using your idea, I'm thinking these siblings really are bound together, either by conception or their mother's blood rituals. When one dies, the soul remains tethered to the other siblings. The body is dead, but the soul keeps tugging at the others. As an alternative approach, for every dead sibling, once per day a living sibling (picked at random) has to make a fortitude save (increasing DC each day) or take one point of Con damage (cannot be healed until the deceased is raised or rezzed).

This keeps the concept of death. It also, for good and ill, removes some of the urgency of rushing to the sibling's rescue. The sibling's death can't result in your immediate death or a TPK, but it forces you to work to bring them back.

Another random thought that occurred to me while thinking about this... add on a battle at the *very* end of the campaign when their patron -- actually a nascent demon lord instead of full demon lord -- tries to kill and absorb them (seven 20th-level characters would make quite a feast).

Anyway, really nice food for thought. Thanks for sharing that idea; it's definitely giving me some of my own.


I love the idea of them having had enough of being a demon lord's pawns and taking the fight to the demon lord. Very fitting.

Silver Crusade RPG Superstar 2014 Top 16

DM_aka_Dudemeister wrote:
This looks way cool. I want to run it as a sequel to my Kingmaker game some day. For now though I'm excited about the prospect of competitive teams of Explorers vs Overlords exploring the Underdark.

I'm not certain that campaign model would work as well as Gary implies it might. Having read the first module, I definitely think you could pull it off for that module, but future modules will use success in module 1 as the jumping off point (quite literally) for future adventures. As only one side (explorers or overlords) can achieve success in book 1, I don't see how both could then move into book 2.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

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.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber
Zahir ibn Mahmoud ibn Jothan wrote:
DM_aka_Dudemeister wrote:
This looks way cool. I want to run it as a sequel to my Kingmaker game some day. For now though I'm excited about the prospect of competitive teams of Explorers vs Overlords exploring the Underdark.
I'm not certain that campaign model would work as well as Gary implies it might. Having read the first module, I definitely think you could pull it off for that module, but future modules will use success in module 1 as the jumping off point (quite literally) for future adventures. As only one side (explorers or overlords) can achieve success in book 1, I don't see how both could then move into book 2.

Certainly that's an issue, but there will be articles in future issues.


Gary come out of your cavern. We need your feedback ^^

Sovereign Court

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Major Longhorn wrote:
Gary come out of your cavern. We need your feedback ^^

Heck, I'd still like to hear from him so I can get my pdf!

Sczarni

When will we be seeing a print version?


This should be good...

Webstore Gninja Minion

Icaste Fyrbawl wrote:
When will we be seeing a print version?

That's entirely up to Fire Mountain Games—I have no information regarding that.


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

So this was in part funded by a Kickstarter, which Gary has not updated in four months. Not one word. No shipments of promised physical products. No responses to private messages asking to update a shipping address either. Nothing.

And yet he backed another Kickstarter as recently as 19 days ago. Comments are beginning to pile up at the Kickstarter wondering what has happened. I know he has frequented the Paizo forums before, so I'm hoping someone here knows what's up with this adventure path.

Grand Lodge

Azazyll wrote:

So this was in part funded by a Kickstarter, which Gary has not updated in four months. Not one word. No shipments of promised physical products. No responses to private messages asking to update a shipping address either. Nothing.

And yet he backed another Kickstarter as recently as 19 days ago. Comments are beginning to pile up at the Kickstarter wondering what has happened. I know he has frequented the Paizo forums before, so I'm hoping someone here knows what's up with this adventure path.

No one knows, it would seem.


Took the money and ran?

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I hope not, the first AP was great and I would like to see this. I (thankfully) didn't back this cos of cash flows, but I feel sorry for those who have. I know how it feels (Myth & Magic x2 no contact for months after pics of the books at the author's house!)


Honestly, at this point I'm mostly concerned about Gary's well-being. I don't *think* he ran, but rather that something other is up. Perhaps some kind of physical or mental health issue... these days it seems like a lot of great, creative personalities are suffering and with the negativity associated (understandably) with the communications-issues, that would be an explanation for his silence...

Grand Lodge

Well, if he did take the money and ran, then he left everything behind. Apparently even old friends of his can't even make contact. That really puts things into perspective for me. Hopefully things will work out in the end.


...which makes me even more concerned. Thanks for the heads up, kevin_video! I *Do* hope he doesn't suffer from a significant issue and that if he does, he'll get help and find a way to cope. I've waited for Razor Coast. I'll wait for ToN.


Maybe he's been kidnapped.


Friends can't make contact? Has anyone checked his home?


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Maps, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

My understanding is that he is still logging in on Kickstarter and backing other projects, just not communicating anything about his own.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

https://www.kickstarter.com/profile/730004812

He has backed a few projects over the last month, it is sad that he is not talking to his loyal backers :(


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

Apparently people have had luck talking to the illustrator in the past couple of days, who says that the project is advancing, but at a much slower rate than hoped for.

Which is fine, if you just tell your backers what's going on. Lots of Kickstarters I've backed have gone months or years over the projected timeframe, and I honestly don't mind (OotS, Ultimate Psionics, Catan Board, Reaper minis, etc). Make the backers feel included, and the vast majority of them will understand.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber

Well i bought the pdf here and it looks really good.


Azazyll wrote:

Apparently people have had luck talking to the illustrator in the past couple of days, who says that the project is advancing, but at a much slower rate than hoped for.

Which is fine, if you just tell your backers what's going on. Lots of Kickstarters I've backed have gone months or years over the projected timeframe, and I honestly don't mind (OotS, Ultimate Psionics, Catan Board, Reaper minis, etc). Make the backers feel included, and the vast majority of them will understand.

good to hear someone has some new info for us...

Scarab Sages

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Gary McBride just did an update on the Kickstarter page.

In the update

Gary McBride wrote:
"Throne of Night #2 will be completed by the end of this month..." and "And beyond Book Two...we are also hard at work on Book Three."


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?

Grand Lodge

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?

That would be a good analysis, yes.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Cards, Companion Subscriber

Or maybe it's like when a blacklight hits white, the white glows purple.

Woo, rave in the fungus forest. \m/

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