Pathfinder Adventure Path #79: The Half-Dead City (Mummy’s Mask 1 of 6) (PFRPG)

****( ) (based on 11 ratings)
Pathfinder Adventure Path #79: The Half-Dead City (Mummy’s Mask 1 of 6) (PFRPG)
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Chapter 1: "The Half-Dead City"
By Jim Groves

The Mummy's Mask Adventure Path begins with "The Half-Dead City," an exciting new adventure in the pyramid-laden realm of Osirion, Land of Pharaohs! In the city of Wati, the church of Pharasma holds a lottery allowing explorers to delve the tombs of the city's vast necropolis in search of the nation's lost glories. In the course of investigating dusty tombs and fighting their ancient guardians and devious traps, the heroes encounter a group of rival adventurers intent on keeping one tomb's treasures for themselves. At the same time, the heroes learn that a dangerous artifact has been stolen from the tomb. Can the adventurers defeat their rivals, or will they fall to the undead defenders of the city's necropolis?

This volume of the Pathfinder Adventure Path launches the Mummy's Mask Adventure Path and includes:

  • "The Half-Dead City," a Pathfinder adventure for 1st-level characters, by Jim Groves.
  • A double-sized gazetteer of Wati exploring both parts of this vibrant city dedicated to the dead, by Crystal Frasier.
  • A rough welcome to Wati in the Pathfinder Journal, by Amber E. Scott.
  • Five dangerous new monsters, by Jim Groves, Will McCardell, and Michael McCarthy.

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.

Cover Art by Tyler Jacobson.

ISBN-13: 978-1-60125-588-4

The Half-Dead City 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 (595 KB zip/PDF).

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

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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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Part 1

*****

I thoroughly enjoyed GMing this chapter of the campaign. Partly because it is set in Osirian and I am really intrigued by the fantasy Egyptian lore.

The party I am running for is (at time of completion) a human cleric of Nethys, human occulist, dhampyr sorcerer (undead bloodline), elf fighter/bard (archaeologist), dwarf unchained monk, and a human alchemist.

As for the scenario:

The good:

* The premise works. Adventuring parties come together because the tombs of Wati are being opened to explorers. It gives a decent explanation for the players to form their party. No sitting in a tavern this time.

* Three different locations each with it's own distinct feel and set of challenges. Felt very old school to me so it gets a thumbs up.

* Although I have noticed many didn't like it, I love how this has nothing to do with the actual campaign plot until the very last minute of the book. Not every campaign needs to start off face first into the plot.

The Bad:

* This book is basically three dungeon crawls. By the time my players had finished the book I was bored of describing corridors and rooms.

* There are role-play opportunities but not enough. This chapter is very heavy on the combat and the dungeon crawling.

The Ugly:

* Nothing.


Review

****( )

The good thing about THDC is that is set in Ossirion, the land of the exotic and the hot. The bad thing is that THDC starts slow, very slow in fact - the first third of this adventure felt more like a training session for the beginners - few monsters, few traps and some treasure. The speed began to pick up in the second third, but even then the action was uneven, and in the final third THDC did feel like a proper RPG game, but the problem was that there was little connection between the three parts. Yes, it did give us plenty of time to play-act various scenes...but this situation works only when players want to play-act; otherwise, it is just a waste of time. THDC feels more like three different adventures combined into one, and this isn't the best of feelings.


Please Paizo, improve the book binding

****( )

First, I need to comment on the book binding. These are very nice, magazine style paperback books. But, after paging through the first third or so several times prepping for the first session, the pages are falling out. I'm very careful with the book, nothing got pulled on, and I don't flatten the book open nor strain the binding in any way. The glue binding just starts falling apart and now a whole section of pages has fallen out completely. This is incredibly disappointing for what otherwise is a great looking book. It makes me limit how many times I dare crack open the other volumes I've received.

As for the adventure itself:
The other reviews here are right on, the adventure/encounters are good, and if you do some flavor work-up around the theme of tomb-raiding, it can be interesting - but yeah, the whole first couple adventures into the Necropolis just seem to be completely disconnected to the actual story.

I would have liked to see one or two encounters based on exploring outside in the necropolis on the way to something, running into more unexpected troubles (other than the ambush already there, I mean). It does provide some good suggestion-type details on the necropolis to make this on your own. I would suggest cutting the second adventure site in half (both the layout and number of encounters) and having the party deal with two other encounters out in the necropolis based on where they say they go.

It does, however, lend itself well to a group that isn't very experienced in a table-top rpg, and maybe that's what Paizo had in mind here. The distinct chunks of tomb exploration are a great "intro to dungeon delving", if you will. The dungeons, traps, treasure, and random encounters are all there without the risk of being away from town. That can really help a new group. And if you're a GM that makes traps more interesting than default, those fit in pretty well.


Dragged down by lackluster premise

***( )( )

Site ate my review, annoyingly, so I'll write a shorter, bulletpoints version.

* The premise of the adventure is boring as hack. In the half city, half necropolis of Wati, local authorities allow adventuring parties to delve into some of the city's many tombs and ancient, undisturbed locations. The PCs do explore those tombs, one after another, with no surprises or changes of pace, everything going in a predictable manner.

* The adventure has literally nothing to do with the plot of the APs. Even in previous APs that had first adventures mostly used to set up the parameters of the story than the story itself, it least there was always some pivotal moment near the end of the adventure that helped to start the overall plot going. Think Second Darkness, if you've had the chance to play or read it. Here, however, there's one tiny detail the players might not even notice, that hints that something that's maybe important may have happened (someone entered a tomb before them and took something from it). In short, no relation to the overall story.

* The execution, given the weak premise, is surprisingly good. Each of the three dungeons feels very different from the other two, and the variety keeps things fresh even if, in principle, this adventure is about the same thing happening three times.

* There is very little roleplaying built into the adventure as written, though some of the stuff makes for good jumping points for the GM to add stuff of her own. However, if you expect Shattered Star levels of roleplaying within a dungeon, you will be disappointed

* Very nice new monsters (living scrolls? yes please!)

Overall, when I'm reading the first installment in a new AP, I'm looking for something to grab me - and here, nothing did. that is because the premise itself, which I find bland and unexciting. That's not a good sign for a new AP, I'll tell you that. However, I'm sure the adventure will be decent fun to play through, hence the 3 star rating.


The Half Dead City

***( )( )

First time writing a review so hold on and see if I can work my way through this one. Also this will contain spoilers.

First, I like everyone else I was super excited for an Osirian Adventure.

This AP does it well but nothing too spectacular and definitely falls flatter than typical first adventures. Starting out as a group of tomb raiders is awesome. The three different tombs have a lot of flavor and are interesting (I especially enjoyed the love haunt in the 2nd "tomb"), but ultimately aren't anything to get super excited about. The set up of who else was in the tomb is nice. Its good to see setup for things to be paid off later.

The Scorched Hand's motivation, at least to the PCs, just seems to be uninteresting and in part unexplained. Also, the end goal isn't clearly defined, I might be wrong but typically I thought the first adventure would give some hints to the PCs as to what their ultimate goal is. This one just doesn't have that (for good or for bad). So at the end it just seems like the PCs are going to keep tomb raiding until the end of books six.

Overall, good toe in the sand (see what I did there? ;) ) but nothing too mind blowing. Still excited to see what happens next, hopefully it will build up rather than having the high start, slow middle, and climatic finish like most typical APs.

Hope you enjoyed my review,

Casey


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Webstore Gninja Minion

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Announced! Cover image is a mockup.

Silver Crusade

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Groovy.

Shadow Lodge

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Helloooooooooo....

Scarab Sages

Sooo excited for this AP...for reasons. *wink*

Lantern Lodge RPG Superstar 2014 Top 4

Congrats on nabbing this book, Jim! Looking forward to seeing the fruits of your labor, I know you worked your ass off on this one!

Scarab Sages

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber

Always been a fan of Osirion! Looking forward to this AP!!!


Can't wait.


Awesome! Can't wait to restart AP subscription for this XD


My boyfriend's going to love this series.
Hmm.. maybe I'll ask him if he wants to run this one...


10 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

*wearing gas mask*

"Are you my mummy?"

:)


Coolness. I love my mummy!


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Modules, Tales Subscriber

I already did that joke back on Rasputin Must Die. ;p


3 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Kajehase wrote:
I already did that joke back on Rasputin Must Die. ;p

Yes but did you see my spin on it? I made a pun out of your earlier comment. (mummy instead of mommy).

Oh nevermind let's just laugh. :D HA HA HA HA HA.


Awesome!
I love Osirion. I love the undead. I am looking forward to this one very much.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion Subscriber

I can't wait for this AP.

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 4

6 people marked this as a favorite.

Awesome! This was a blast to write! I'm confident that people will love it and the really exciting metaplot that the whole series has. I can't wait to see the art and the expert fine-tuning that Rob McCreary has done to double down on the kick ass.

Scarab Sages

I love the rival-adventuring party concept. You just don't see enough of that, despite this being a world supposedly teeming with adventurers.

I'd be REALLY excited to see at least a series of teams working against the party as recurring villains. But that's just my daydreaming.

Thanks Jim!


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Funny, no one's mentioned the ZOMG MUMMY DRAGON!!!1! on the cover. I dig it!


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

...or is it a dragon mummy? Hmm...


2 people marked this as a favorite.

Both thoughts are equally terrifying.

Shadow Lodge

2 people marked this as a favorite.

I know he's super busy, but I *REEEEALLY* hope Michael Kortes writes one of these. :D

But starting with Jim is already a great start!

Grand Lodge

Watching the Mummy tonight!!! >.<

Sovereign Court

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

So... can you tell us who is doing the cover art?

*hopes for the glorious return of Steve Prescott to AP covers*

Shadow Lodge

cannon fodder wrote:
Funny, no one's mentioned the ZOMG MUMMY DRAGON!!!1! on the cover. I dig it!

Probably mostly because it's a placeholder cover.

Scarab Sages

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

So, this artifact can raise the dead right? Why is this special? So can an animate dead spell.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Cards, Companion, Maps, Modules, Pawns, Roleplaying Game Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber
Stratagemini wrote:
So, this artifact can raise the dead right? Why is this special? So can an animate dead spell.

I'm thinking it has to do with the numbers and types of undead. If you can raise an army of ghouls and mummies to your command say...

Liberty's Edge

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Callous Jack wrote:

So... can you tell us who is doing the cover art?

*hopes for the glorious return of Steve Prescott to AP covers*

Man, I miss Steve Prescott! He and WAR are my favorites!

Paizo Employee Creative Director

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Stratagemini wrote:
So, this artifact can raise the dead right? Why is this special? So can an animate dead spell.

You'll have to wait and see what makes it so special! :-)


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Stratagemini wrote:
So, this artifact can raise the dead right? Why is this special? So can an animate dead spell.

I bet the artifact creates a Zombie Jamboree. :)

I love the rival adventuring party idea, too. They've generally been done well in Pathfinder products, and bring a lot of dynamics to the adventure; I was kind of hoping we'd see one in this AP. Be very interesting if they are able to make it last at least a couple of adventures.


How is it we have this up, but still a mockup for the art for Midnight Isles?

On topic, I might have to keep my subscription up after WotR finishes.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

j b 200 wrote:

How is it we have this up, but still a mockup for the art for Midnight Isles?

On topic, I might have to keep my subscription up after WotR finishes.

This is a mockup as well, that's how! :)


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
James Jacobs wrote:
j b 200 wrote:

How is it we have this up, but still a mockup for the art for Midnight Isles?

On topic, I might have to keep my subscription up after WotR finishes.

This is a mockup as well, that's how! :)

obviously she or he doesn't have Lost Kingdoms:) the write up sounds awesome!!!!!!

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber

Well well well, the first adventure seems to place the PCs as Indiana Jones and the rival adventurers as Belloq. I'm FOR it!

Silver Crusade

6 people marked this as a favorite.

That rival adventuring party sounds like a nice callback to the first Osirion-based module. :)


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Mikaze wrote:
That rival adventuring party sounds like a nice callback to the first Osirion-based module. :)

I was thinking the same thing.


Yep, will definitely have to renew the AP subscription for this.
I've really enjoyed running a rival party in a previous campaign. That's an unexpected pleasant bonus for this AP which already had my attention.


My friends and I ask, what is new or different? In this case, the description gives us nothing useful. Compare that to the idea of an AP where you conquer a kingdom! Without that prospect you are left to the hope that a multitude of authors pull off an engaging story.
As evidenced by some APs, that doesn't always happen.

Liberty's Edge

4 people marked this as a favorite.

Given that I have found that all of the APs so far have had engaging stories, I fail to see your point. Nonetheless you are welcome to your opinion.


Cthulhudrew wrote:
Mikaze wrote:
That rival adventuring party sounds like a nice callback to the first Osirion-based module. :)
I was thinking the same thing.

The plot description sounds a little similar to J1 and J4.

Are there similarities or some connection?

(of course, there were some similarities in description between RoW and the Witchwar Legacy and they were very different in actuality, so it could just be a description thing).


Maybe this adventure's party is the rival party from the old module (and vice versa).


graywulfe wrote:
Given that I have found that all of the APs so far have had engaging stories, I fail to see your point. Nonetheless you are welcome to your opinion.

Indeed. I think it would be a sad day when Paizo decided that it couldn't just do an AP based around a compelling story, that it was required to come up with some "new" game structure that was openly revealed before playing the game. Given the overwhelming positive interest in this AP based solely on the hints of it's story, I don't think they are in danger of reaching that point though.


I do feel as though 130 dollars should produce something more interesting than a series of dungeon crawls, and I hope it does.


3 people marked this as a favorite.
Volg Drohar wrote:
I do feel as though 130 dollars should produce something more interesting than a series of dungeon crawls, and I hope it does.

It always does in my experiences.


Shattered Star provide it could happen. Although I doubt we can really tell what this AP is about from one chapter, right?

Right?


YES!
Since there appears to be a companion booklet about not only Osirion but also Thuvia and Rahadoum, I am guessing that this involves a Rahadoumi (?) plot to raise the dead using a mix of ancient Osiriani magic/artifacts and that flower concoction from Thuvia. Just my guess...


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Seth Parsons wrote:

YES!

Since there appears to be a companion booklet about not only Osirion but also Thuvia and Rahadoum, I am guessing that this involves a Rahadoumi (?) plot to raise the dead using a mix of ancient Osiriani magic/artifacts and that flower concoction from Thuvia. Just my guess...

Not necessarily. 'People of the North' detailed quite a bit more than simply the Jadwiga & others of Irresen, yet Reign of Winter only touched in Irresen & never even came close to either the Lands of the Linnorm Kings or the Mammoth Lords, yet most of the information in it was quite valuable for a Reign of Winter Campaign.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Maps, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Seth Parsons wrote:

YES!

Since there appears to be a companion booklet about not only Osirion but also Thuvia and Rahadoum, I am guessing that this involves a Rahadoumi (?) plot to raise the dead using a mix of ancient Osiriani magic/artifacts and that flower concoction from Thuvia. Just my guess...

This would be the most awesome idea ever...I'd play that even if it weren't the AP!


Most excited been about AP announcement since Kingmaker

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 4

4 people marked this as a favorite.

The notion of a rival group of adventurers is somewhat archetypal. We do see it more often in a "tomb raiding" storyline.

As for an interesting story, with complete and total conviction I tell you this is such a story, and written by the best of AP authors—with a Developer with a degree in history and a passion for the subject. You only know about me and Crystal, and I cannot divulge the others. It is not my place to do so. However they're all awesome, every one of them.

The meta-plot is incredibly interesting. It does need time to develop however. Bear in mind Chapter One are the low-levels, and need to set the stage. Trust me when I say this flower will bloom.


Nice... Just a series of dungeon crawls would be disappointing to me as well,
but I have good hopes for this one, hopefully the scope of action and interaction goes well beyond that trope.

Any idea if we will be seeing more background on Sphinxes, history, "ecology", etc?

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