Pathfinder Adventure Path #113: What Grows Within (Strange Aeons 5 of 6) (PFRPG)

3.50/5 (based on 4 ratings)
Pathfinder Adventure Path #113: What Grows Within (Strange Aeons 5 of 6) (PFRPG)
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Death From Below

After finding the route to the lost city of Neruzavin, the adventurers must mount an expedition into the vast and deadly desert region called the Parchlands, where they hope to catch up to their treacherous former employer. Once they brave the heat-blasted wasteland, the heroes arrive in an abandoned city at the edge of a lake where a Great Old One slumbers. The adventurers must track Count Lowls's party, recover a vile tome, activate the city's Star Stelae, and perform a powerful ritual that allows them to follow the insane noble to Carcosa. Along the way, the heroes must be careful they don't wake the slumbering Great Old One or stir up the flying polyps sealed beneath the city!

This volume of Pathfinder Adventure Path continues the Strange Aeons Adventure Path and includes:

  • "What Grows Within," a Pathfinder RPG adventure for 13th-level characters, by John Compton.
  • Examination of the fungal blot that spreads through dreams in an article about the Great Old One Xhamen-Dor, by James Jacobs.
  • An exploration of the blasphemous tome known as the Necronomicon, by James Jacobs.
  • An icy tomb hides a terrible secret in the Pathfinder's Journal, by Arinn Dembo.
  • A bestiary containing a new Great Old One and other hideous monsters, by John Compton, Adam Daigle, and James Jacobs.

ISBN-13: 978-1-60125-913-4

"What Grows Within" 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 (723 kb zip/PDF).

Other Resources: This product is also available on the following platforms:

Hero Lab Online
Fantasy Grounds Virtual Tabletop
SoundSet on Syrinscape
Archives of Nethys

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

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3.50/5 (based on 4 ratings)

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Very confusing but G+@ D$+N it's enjoyable

4/5

I was torn between 3 and 4 Stars. I write this from the DMs perspective.

Preparing parts 2 and 3 of the book was an immense struggle. Usually you know "ok, event A happens, then B, then either C, D, or E, depending on B...." you can basically make a flowchart of ideas and scenarios that could obviously get railroaded. Part 1 of the book does this perfectly, but as another reviewer said, it's a bit railroady, but I'm not bothered by that. You know what the players encounter and you can work with that. Do the PCs have an eagle that scouts? Then they will see what comes ahead easier! You can still work with it but it also gives clear directions for the GM....

Not so the second and third part. I don't know if this is an isolated experience, but I felt utterly lost on the line the players were supposed to follow. There was no "this is what happens when the players ask around" or "when the players seek out a tavern" etc.... They just give you a bunch of random encounters and say "but most of those should be done after condition X", without ever saying how to reach that condition. I was very much missing the guidance for the GM in those parts.

But enough negativity! You know why I finally decided for 4 Stars? Because of everything and everyone you encounter. WOW! I introduced this book to my players with "from here on out, things only get more exciting!" because I was so hyped to Roleplay such diverse NPCs, ideas and things, and have some rather interesting fights and encounters.

TL;DR: Parts 2 and 3 lack guidance for the GM which he needs to work out himself, but the diversity and creativity in the book is amazing and great!




I enjoyed it overall

4/5

Good times were had. Could be better, but I have played a whole lot worse.


Wretched and derivative

1/5

In role playing games, railroading is when the players are forced into a specific set of actions regardless of their wishes. This chapter of the adventure path does this in the worst way possible. The plot goes as follows: The big bad has used an evil book to perform a ritual to enter the realm of Hastur, an evil demigod who looks like some guy in a yellow hood. The players must save the day and prove their heroism by....reclaiming the aforementioned evil book and performing the same evil ritual to enter the evil demigod's home realm. Sigh. The book is located in yet another ruined city filled with monsters who sit around waiting to be attacked. Seriously, is it possible to go half a block without stumbling into a ruined city in gaming? In the course of the adventure, the players will be forced to kill no less than two angels who are simply doing their jobs. (Three if you count that guru-angel turned emo). The book explicitly states that it is impossible to avoid killing the angels, without making a deal with a devil and even that only reduces the death toll to one. Not exactly friendly to players who play paladins and clerics.

Making matters worse is the fact that there is no real reason to do any of the adventure. No reason is given for why the players cannot simply use common dimensional travel magic to reach their goal. For that matter, what exactly is the threat that bad guy possesses? The text indicates that he may elevate his patron from demigod to outer god, but it never stated how this to take place and what its significance is. Hastur is already featured as a challenge rating 29 entry in the Beastiary 4 and seems to have no difficulty interacting with the mortal world.

The rest of the book is given over to discussing the evil book, but honestly, Paizo has already gone over similar ground in earlier projects and much more competently. Also, there is an overview of the Great Old One Xamen-Dor, but it is just another evil demigod who uses fungus to create undead. This setting already has about a half dozen bad guys who do the same thing and honestly, it is kitchen mold. How scary can it be? The villain has some other gimmick about becoming more powerful the more people know of it, but this never really plays much a role.

I cannot recall the last time, Paizo has published a turkey like this. Hopefully, it will be the last time this happens


JOHN COMPTON OUTDID HIMSELF!

5/5

My review is based on a copy where pages 1-16 are missing/replaced by copies of pages 17-32, so i can obviously not consider them in my rating.
I already read that the map of the city on page 14 is missing a scale (it´s supposed to be 400 feet for the scale bar) and that how exactly the characters got through the Parchlands of Casmaron (which don´t get a map) to this place is pretty much handwaved, but the rest (pages 17-96 plus two inside covers) are conclusive enough for me.
As i will give my copy back to the store tomorrow and probably receive a mint one in as early as 2 months time, i write this review before the one for AP#112, which i havn´t read entirely yet.

GOOD:
The inside front cover illustration of the city and inside back cover illu of a flying polyp are very atmospheric.
All of the artwork is very good. Every battle-map but one is easy to draw, yet fun to play on.
The encountered creatures are very diverse and a lot from Bestiary 5 or new ones are included. There is a dark and moody atmosphere permeating the adventure and reading the handout on page 25 actually made me shiver.
A lot of the encountered creatures can be parleyed with (if done rightly), some have to be killed - a perfect mix with plenty of roleplay possibilities.
The challenge rating is just about perfect. A lot of new horrific haunts are in here.
All 5 Bestiary entries are great, especially the Child of Yog-Sothoth template and the Hunting Horror.

BAD:
The map of "the snarl" on page 31 is not easy to draw and also doesn´t fit on a "Bigger Flip-Mat", something i have come to loathe as a GM.

UGLY:
There are at least 3 different gargantuan creatures encountered in this adventure, yet none of which can be presented by any gargantuan miniature, neither from "Pathfinder Battles" nor "D&D".

This adventure gives me an "H.P. Lovecraft´s The Nameless City" vibe, which is a great accomplishment.
Often book 5 of an AP is so ridiculous overcomplicated to run, that i immedeately decide not to. Not with this one.
So far the "Strange Aeons" AP is one of the rare ones (if not the only one), that doesn´t have a disappointing book in it!

The next continent Pathfinder needs to explore is Casmaron and with the excellent Pathfinder Campaign Setting: Qadira, Jewel of the East, another step in this direction is done (the first being the map of it´s nortmost part "Iobaria" in Pathfinder Adventure Path #33: The Varnhold Vanishing (Kingmaker 3 of 6) - the only part of this AP of which (non-mint) copies are still available.


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Pathfinder Companion, Maps, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

You haven't received your authorization e-mail yet, correct? I have, and I did see volume 5 disappear for a while earlier today. When the order is authorized, you should receive an e-mail listing everything that is to be sent to you, and volume 5 should reappear on your Subscriptions page with a status of Pending. In addition, this page should have a note in red at the top indicating that you bought this product yesterday or today.

If that doesn't happen this weekend, check the January shipping thread under Customer Service on the message boards on Monday. Contact them if they say that authorizations have completed and your order is still in limbo.


Recieved the authorization email yesterday, which probably means it will be available for subscriber download sometime next week. Can't wait!

I'm really hoping for a full write-up of

This person:
Weiralai
in this one.


Fantastic! I definately spoke a night too soon, got the email today. Cheers guys, thanks!

Dark Archive

So, is Xhamen-Dor the Great Old One in this book?


I'm 99% sure but I won't know until I get my copy. -compulsively refreshes the my downloads page)


Well it is nice to see the Necronomicon used in something other then a Evil Dead movie/TV Show.


Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Spastic Puma wrote:
I'm 99% sure but I won't know until I get my copy. -compulsively refreshes the my downloads page)

You and me both. My refresh button is getting worn out.

Edit: Persistence pays off! Downloading.

Edit2:

Spoiler:
To no one's surprise, Xhamen-Dor is the GOO in this issue. We also get two templates, one for fungal undead creatures seeded by Xhamen-Dor and another for children of Yog-Sothoth, plus a new Div and the Hunting Horror.


Got it!

The Great Old One is:

drumroll:
Xhamen-Dor, as you guessed.

The new monsters are:

For those interested in knowing:

Child of Yog-Sothoth, a template for those corporeal creatures with a little of that Whateley flair.

Druj Nasu Div (CR 8), outsiders who defile burial grounds.

Hunting Horror (CR 14), a downright nasty Mythos Beast with great physical and magical powers.

Seeded Creature, a template for those infected by Xhamen-Dor

Dark Archive

So what Iconics are in the bestiary opener this time?

Paizo Employee Developer

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Kevin Mack wrote:
So what Iconics are in the bestiary opener this time?

Oloch and Amiri.


I'm pretty jealous you got your download already. I was hoping I'd have it by the end of today (we're supposed to play tonight) but that all depends if the shipping gods favor me. I shall prepare a token offering of cardboard and broken F5 keys.

Paizo Employee Pathfinder Society Lead Developer

12 people marked this as a favorite.
Adam Daigle wrote:
Kevin Mack wrote:
So what Iconics are in the bestiary opener this time?
Oloch and Amiri.

I imagine the bestiary opener's caption going a little like this:

Amiri: My sword isn't working! Didn't you say swords would kill this?
Oloch: My sword isn't working, either! Swords always work!
Amiri: But you researched this, right? You put Knowledge ranks into the thing that you need to know if swords work, right?
Oloch: Swords always work! And knowledge checks are your job!
Amiri: WHAT?!?
Oloch: So, um, hypothetically...if a warpriest of a battle god spent all of his time learning how to play the drums in the hope of starting a garage band...
Amiri: You put everything into Perform (percussion)?!?
Oloch: Shhyeah. Totally metal.
Amiri: Now is not the time for Our Lord in Iron puns, Oloch. We're gonna need a lot more than music to get out of this mess!
*Xhamen-Dor bursts through a building in fast pursuit of the iconics*
Xhamen-Dor: SOMEONE SAY MUSIC?!? SING THE SONGS OF MADNESS!!!

Xhamen Dor's 110% unofficial theme song as it collapses buildings in hot pursuit of the iconics:

Let it grow! Let it grow!
Nettle, bramble, thorn, and briar!
Let it grow! Let it grow!
And awaken Hastur's ire!
Drink up the life
Of all the hills, seas, and sands
As I comandeer your dreams...
I am a blight across the land.

Amiri and Oloch: Mistakes were made!
*Amiri and Oloch fail their Will saves against the unspeakable presence.


Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I have to say, I like the seeded a lot. They very much remind me of the spawn of Kyuss. Given that Age of Worms is one of my favourite APs, that is fairly high praise.

Dark Archive

Yay the pdf


Is Lowls statted in the appendix or do we wait one more volume?


Well...

Of old foes:

Lowls has entered Carcosa long before the PCs reach Neruzavin, so he stays off-camera in this chapter as well, and is not statted in the appendix. He has left behind journals filled with his insane ramblings for the PCs to discover, however.

On the other hand, Weiralai returns to take a final stab at eliminating the characters, as expected. She's blessed with a write-up in the Appendix this time around. Depending on the power of the King in Yellow can work wonders for catching up to your foes, it seems, despite all the drawbacks: she's gained 11 levels of cleric since The Trushmoor Terror.


What are the creature types for the critters in the bestiary?


Let's see...

Monster Types:

The Children of Yog-Sothoth are abberations, the new div is an Outsider, Xhamen-Dor is a plant (!), the hunting horror is a magical beast, and the seeded are undead.


Well that is a variety;) Thanks for the info Wight.

Dark Archive

2 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Liking it so far, especially

Spoiler:
having a variable first portion depending on the PC's interactions and a "lawful good doesn't mean lawful nice " moment.

RPG Superstar 2014 Top 32

Map of Neruzavin (pg14) is missing scale.It has the bar, but no numbers.

Actually if i enlarge the picture there appears to be some text that is close to the background color and is not legible. Maybe the physical prduct will be easier to read.

Paizo Employee Developer

Grumpus wrote:

Map of Neruzavin (pg14) is missing scale.It has the bar, but no numbers.

Actually if i enlarge the picture there appears to be some text that is close to the background color and is not legible. Maybe the physical product will be easier to read.

That's unfortunate and something that I wished I'd noticed when sending this book to the printer. To answer your question, though, the whole bar is 400 feet.

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
DeciusNero wrote:
Liking it so far, especially ** spoiler omitted **

That part does look like fun to run, Decius.

Spoiler:

Players are much less conflicted on what to do when the opposing outsiders are not from the Upper Planes. What do you do when you're taking actions that someone in Heaven finds offensive? How are you going to deal with the fact that you need the Necronomicon, but Heaven's agents are tasked to retrieve it? Much more morally complex and fun!


The Children of Yog-Sothoth template....what's the CR bump on that ?

Paizo Employee Developer

1 person marked this as a favorite.
nighttree wrote:
The Children of Yog-Sothoth template....what's the CR bump on that ?

+1

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Misroi wrote:
DeciusNero wrote:
Liking it so far, especially ** spoiler omitted **

That part does look like fun to run, Decius.

** spoiler omitted **

My thoughts exactly!


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I love the picture of Amiri and Oolch in the Bestiary opener. :D


A new Div! What is the Druj Nasi like? Appearance? Powers?

Dark Archive

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Wannabe Demon Lord wrote:
A new Div! What is the Druj Nasi like? Appearance? Powers?

I rather like them -

Spoiler:
they're insectoid - they can cause nausation via droning, and can create undead that are immune to flame. Areas with druj tend to leave thier dead at high elevations for the carrion birds.

Dark Archive

I bought this today in my local flagstore in germany and the first 16 pages are pages #17 through 32, then it begins again at page 17.

Does anyone have the same problem?

On another note, this adventure has at least FIVE GARGANTUAN creatures in it, which is to be expected considering that a lot of Mythos creatures are of such obscene size that a lot of horror comes from this fact alone.

What i don´t like about that as a DM or player, is that NEITHER PAWNS NOR MINIATURES can represent these creatures.
This is especially sad considering the BBE is gargantuan.

I wish Paizo would get their act together and finally do something about that - a "Gargantuan Bestiary Box" is doable and overdue.

Shadow Lodge Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 8

1 person marked this as a favorite.

A Gargantuan/Colossal bestiary box would be cool, but perhaps impractical. IMO, pawns of that size don't look as nice as the medium/large ones. Plus, creatures of that size fit one to a sheet, so you'd only get ~16 monsters (plus whatever you can squeeze in around the edges). The gargantuan and colossal bases might also kick up the price point.

I mean, even with all that, I'd buy it, but I'm a pawn fanatic. :)

I'm a way out from running this one, but I'm already hunting down minis for the big critters. So far I've found this guy:

Link


Does Xhamen-Dor get an obedience and Boons like the King in Yellow did back in Chapter 2? I've been hoping to make a character one of his worshippers for about about a year now.

Silver Crusade Contributor

sage miller wrote:
Does Xhamen-Dor get an obedience and Boons like the King in Yellow did back in Chapter 2? I've been hoping to make a character one of his worshippers for about about a year now.

He does! ^_^


I'm done with today, can it be tomorrow now?

Dark Archive

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Marco Massoudi wrote:

I bought this today in my local flagstore in germany and the first 16 pages are pages #17 through 32, then it begins again at page 17.

Does anyone have the same problem?

On another note, this adventure has at least FIVE GARGANTUAN creatures in it, which is to be expected considering that a lot of Mythos creatures are of such obscene size that a lot of horror comes from this fact alone.

What i don´t like about that as a DM or player, is that NEITHER PAWNS NOR MINIATURES can represent these creatures.
This is especially sad considering the BBE is gargantuan.

I wish Paizo would get their act together and finally do something about that - a "Gargantuan Bestiary Box" is doable and overdue.

Conveniently, a set of cheap cork coasters is exactly a 2" radius circle. Just set it down on the map, set an appropriate stand-in monster on top of it (pawn or mini, doesn't matter), and VIOLA! Instant Gargantuan!

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