Pathfinder Adventure Path #127: Crownfall (War for the Crown 1 of 6)

4.10/5 (based on 12 ratings)
Pathfinder Adventure Path #127: Crownfall (War for the Crown 1 of 6)

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Everyone Loves a Party

As Taldor's entire capital city gathers to celebrate, few realize that conspiracy and royal rivalries are about to shake the empire to its core! When a high-minded cabal of senators and nobles tries to steer the nation away from disaster, Emperor Stavian III orders a bloodbath in the senate halls, trapping neophyte spies inside layer upon layer of magical security. As tensions rise and the emperor falls, can the heroes escape the forgotten halls beneath the senate and save the heir to Taldor from an assassin's blade? And even then, can anyone prevent a civil war that will tear one of the Inner Sea's oldest nations apart at its rotting seams?

This volume of Pathfinder Adventure Path launches the War for the Crown Adventure Path and includes:

  • "Crownfall," a Pathfinder adventure for 1st-level characters, by Thurston Hillman.
  • A gazetteer of Oppara, crown jewel of Taldor and center of Inner Sea culture, by Eleanor Ferron.
  • A closer look at some of the primary movers and shakers within the Taldan senate, who make for ideal allies, patrons, or rivals to politically minded players, by Thurston Hillman.
  • A collection of some of Taldor's most exotic and unusual threats, from the unsettlingly doll-like fantionette to the freewheeling onyvolan, by Thurston Hillman and Adrian Ng.

IBSN-13: 978-1-64078-015-6

"Crownfall" 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 (922 kb zip/PDF).

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

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4.10/5 (based on 12 ratings)

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5/5

As a player I had a blast when my GM dropped us into the intrigue from this AP. Another great political scenario from paizo.


Creative, But Lacking in Facts

3/5

I feel very torn about this AP, because there's so much to like, but there's some really fundamental things which have consistently irritated me while running it.

First of all, I want to echo another reviewer by talking a bit about terminology.

I get a strong sense in this AP that the writer(s) was extremely excited by the notion of kicking back against the patriarchy, ABOLISHING PRIMOGENITURE and really making a strong change in Taldor.

That's fine, lord knows the stuffy nation could use a kick up the backside. I'm British, so I know how that feels.

But, honestly, it would have taken 2 minutes on Google to understand these core, fundamental terms that you're dealing with here. Rather than 'abolishing primogeniture', what you actually want to do is bring in Absolute Primogeniture. It's a lot less exciting isn't it? But still, it's correct. The thing we don't want here is called (as another reviewer noted) Agnatic Primogeniture, which means the first born male inherits. Absolute Primogeniture is when the first born inherits. Princess Eutropia is the first born, and so neatly altering the law to include all heirs is all that needed to happen.

In fact, if you did indeed 'abolish' primogeniture, what you'd have on your hands is a complete and total sh*tshow. There wouldn't be an heir at all! The claim to the throne would come down to a billion other factors and poor Eutropia would probably be pushed out of the running altogether.

It's really simple, but I can't tell whether it was overlooked because it didn't fit the 'punching up' narrative, or whether the writers heard the term, got excited, and did no further research at all. I wouldn't mind, but it's repeated so often throughout the AP, and it just feel like facts and terminology have twisted to fit some imagined narrative.

I understand that Paizo are a US company and that this kind of stuff isn't common in their culture. I admit that even for a British person I'm a little more into this than the norm, but I would have thought that if you were going to write a whole AP about thrones and monarchy, you'd do your research.

Unfortunately, it also shows that the setting of Taldor wasn't really built to withstand this level of noble intrigue. Quite simply, I don't think Paizo really understands how the aristocracy actually functions in the places of the world that have it. The way they handle titles and land ownership is spotty at best, and requires GMs to just run with what they're given in most cases because there's a severe dearth of facts and consistency when dealing with noble families and monarchy. This one has a lot in common with Ironfang Invasion in that it prioritizes style over substance too often, where lots of detail is given to NPCs and their personalities and motivations, and very little to the kind of concrete details GMs need in the heat of the moment.

This brings me to my second issue with this AP as a whole - tone.

In the mission statement for War for the Crown, it was sold very much as more nuanced experience than Hell's Rebels, where the PCs would work within the system to enact change, working with established hierarchies and affecting a steady, non-revolutionary change. Also, it would not be a glory seeking AP where the PCs are great heroes who overthrow the system.

So far so good, I was very interested by that mission statement and had high hopes for a truly complex, intrigue experience. My group was very interested in the idea of playing primarily Lawful characters in this case. We'd had a great time being Chaotic revolutionaries in Hell's Rebels, but this sounded like something very different.

It's not that the AP doesn't deliver on the intrigue side of things, but I couldn't shake the sense throughout that it would much -rather- have been about virtuous and chaotic revolutionaries who constantly seek glory by donning on masks and sticking it to the man. I mean, there's literally an entire subsystem about building cults of personality around the PCs, so I don't think it's fair to say this is about working behind the scenes simply because you're not using your own names.

Within the very first setpiece, there's a strong expectation that the PCs are supposed to lie, cheat, steal, and defraud their way through problems. Of course, GMs are always free to make any changes they see fit, but I feel that there is a constant tension between what the AP said it wanted to be, and what it ended up being.

The first installment was a fun mix of intrigue and challenging combat, and I have no problems at all with how it played out. There's just an irritating lack of care for the details in a story that really just wants to pit a compassionate woman against a stodgy, patriarchal man. There's nothing wrong with that narrative, but let's at least get the facts straight first.


Chooo Chooooo

1/5

Having a plot macguffin teleport the party out while the cool stuff happens is beyond railroading and into Deus Ex. There were options for PCs to feel like part of the fight without taking out the part of the fight that would incinerate them without resorting to this.


One of the Strongest Starts to an AP

5/5

This is an astounding AP. The new social influence rules are fun and will serve a group well whether they want to roleplay or roll-play. The combats are interesting, the adventure is generous with magic items, and it has what I consider (and my players would likely agree) the best plot hook and twist of any AP.

If you have a group that doesn't particularly enjoy intrigue or social encounters, or have a group of "murder-hobos", you may wish to skip this AP. For everyone else, I would consider this a must-play.


One of the best intros ever

5/5

I have received legal advice (from Poland no less) that I should post a review, so here it is (note I haven’t yet run this, it is based purely on reading it):

This instalment has immediately become one of my top modules of all time. As all first instalments of an AP, it serves two purposes – first it introduces the next epic adventure path and second it is an adventure in its own right. As far as the first goes, it is terrific. It makes it clear that the players in this AP will be agents of a political leader/faction and not vying for the throne themselves. It also demonstrates that combat will take a less important role in this AP than many others. Finally, it embeds the story in the Empire of Taldor – there are hints of the vast history of the nation and how that will tie-in later, plus introductions to many of the political factions at work in the Empire during this adventure path.

As an adventure in its own right, I think it is exquisitely crafted. First thing to note is that it is definitely an intrigue/roleplay scenario over a combat-focussed scenario. The first several encounters have incidental combat opportunities at best – rather there is a whole bunch of investigation/research and diplomacy opportunities. When things DO get ‘tactical’ even the dungeon featuring the first few bad guys begins with an intricate puzzle spread over a few rooms before there’s any opportunity to kill things and take their stuff (although those opportunities come up later).

The factions are interesting, the initial patron (likely to continue in that role for the campaign, by the looks) is engaging, likable and has a deep background. She is portrayed as ambitious plus competent and yet still sympathetic. There is a good reason for her involving the PCs (often a matter requiring suspension of disbelief in Aps).

My biggest pleasant surprise of this module is that despite being heavily roleplay focussed in the early stages, I feel like I would be able to run it with anyone – whether they were comfortable acting it out or if they preferred to roll dice and consult DCs. As such, I think it would be a good intrigue/diplomacy adventure for a group lacking confidence in that regard (assuming they wanted to stretch their legs somewhat).

My only criticism is that it takes a long time before the PCs get to really flex their combat muscles. At least for my group, they LOVE getting into combats early so they can see how they gel as a group tactically and can try out whatever tactic/approach they’ve decided to pursue with their new, shiny characters. I think I would definitely run the PCs through a ‘meet the team’ adventure first – complete with lots of stealth/combat/etcetera. That would be easily motivated as a ‘testing ground’ for the patron before she entrusts them with the missions in this module. My worry is that, without that introduction, they’ll spend the whole first half (which is supposed to be subtle investigation/diplomacy) sabotaging the plot by getting into fights they really shouldn’t be starting.

As ever – that’s the kind of thing that depends heavily on your group’s idiosyncracies.

If you’re looking for an intrigue/political macinations module, I can’t think of a better one (in any system or any decade from the 70s through to now). There’s some work on the part of the DM, of course, but that’s the nature of the beast when adventures step outside the ‘usual’ fare of kicking in doors and killing clearly identified baddies.

It’s a thoroughly excellent adventure – hats off to everyone who worked on it!


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Paizo Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

It's not out yet.

Grand Lodge

john mclaughlin 11 wrote:
where is the player guide ?

It was mentioned prior that those responsible for it ended up getting sick. Delaying its release by a week. I believe that’s still the case. Maybe by the 28th?


I'm guessing no one has news on the player's guide?


Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I am hoping that it is released after the update.

Paizo Employee Franchise Manager

2 people marked this as a favorite.

It certainly won't be released prior to the update.


Look people the moment SOMEONE knows where the player's guide is for this, I'm sure we'll be told. In the mean time, just hang loose. It might show up today. It might show up tomorrow. It might not show up until next week.

All I know is now I'm 100% sure I need to my Irrissen Winter Witch as an Envoy for Irrisen. :)


Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Mark Moreland wrote:
It certainly won't be released prior to the update.

*Update Finishes*

How about now?


I don't think so Zerg.

Paizo Employee Managing Developer

7 people marked this as a favorite.

Hi! I'm the person who posted earlier talking about how the guide is delayed, so hey, why not an update. The War for the Crown Player's Guide is still in production. It will release as soon as we're ready for it to release, and not a minute sooner.

I know. That kinda sucks for some people, and I get that. We're doing what we can. Please don't for a minute think that we don't want to give you the best experience.


how about a base overview to tie us over


While I get not wanting to commit to a date until you're certain it'll be ready then, surely you have an estimate of the absolute latest it could possibly be... I imagine if we got that date and it were made clear that that isn't a hard and fast date, but rather the most conservative estimate possible, people might calm down with the pestering. Even if it isn't a specific date, but like a time frame, like "it'll definitely be done within the month of March" or "it'll most likely be done within the next fortnight," heck, even "expect it sometime before summer rolls around" would serve to manage expectations.

I'm not trying to add to the pressure and badgering, just offering a possible bandaid that might satisfy at least some of us for awhile.

Shadow Lodge

11 people marked this as a favorite.
psychie wrote:
While I get not wanting to commit to a date until you're certain it'll be ready then, surely you have an estimate of the absolute latest it could possibly be...

Any estimated date will just be used as ammunition against them if it is not met.

Paizo Employee Managing Developer

15 people marked this as a favorite.

^^This.

I've been around the block enough times to be cautious with my words. I do promise that me and my team are working as hard as is applicable to releasing this free product.


Pathfinder Companion, Maps Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Adam Daigle wrote:

^^This.

I've been around the block enough times to be cautious with my words. I do promise that me and my team are working as hard as is applicable to releasing this free product.

I think it is clearly safe to say that the Player's Guide will be released sometime between now and 2019.

Dark Archive

Has there ever been an AP which hadn't had a Players Guide on the street date of it's first installment?

I think it is great that we get a free product that helps to create characters (in advance) for an upcoming campaign.
It is obviously a lot of work checking all the possible character classes and archetypes which exist for compatibility with not one, but six adventure parts.
It is also a great tool to generate excitement and to check if the AP is something one likes.

The lack of a Starfinder Dead Suns players guide made me realize that we need one for every AP.

At the moment i am asking myself if it wouldn't be more practical to incorporate it into the first part of an AP, as a lot of the introductions already are half a guide.
What do you think?

Silver Crusade

3 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Marco Massoudi wrote:

Has there ever been an AP which hadn't had a Players Guide on the street date of it's first installment?

I think it is great that we get a free product that helps to create characters (in advance) for an upcoming campaign.
It is obviously a lot of work checking all the possible character classes and archetypes which exist for compatibility with not one, but six adventure parts.
It is also a great tool to generate excitement and to check if the AP is something one likes.

The lack of a Starfinder Dead Suns players guide made me realize that we need one for every AP.

At the moment i am asking myself if it wouldn't be more practical to incorporate it into the first part of an AP, as a lot of the introductions already are half a guide.
What do you think?

Losing 16 pages out of an AP, could mean losing at least a level's worth of adventure content.

Silver Crusade

3 people marked this as a favorite.
DM_aka_Dudemeister wrote:
Marco Massoudi wrote:

Has there ever been an AP which hadn't had a Players Guide on the street date of it's first installment?

I think it is great that we get a free product that helps to create characters (in advance) for an upcoming campaign.
It is obviously a lot of work checking all the possible character classes and archetypes which exist for compatibility with not one, but six adventure parts.
It is also a great tool to generate excitement and to check if the AP is something one likes.

The lack of a Starfinder Dead Suns players guide made me realize that we need one for every AP.

At the moment i am asking myself if it wouldn't be more practical to incorporate it into the first part of an AP, as a lot of the introductions already are half a guide.
What do you think?

Losing 16 pages out of an AP, could mean losing at least a level's worth of adventure content.

Also, it would be much more difficult to disseminate to players that way. Free pdf ftw!

Silver Crusade

8 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Besides you have all of the future to run an AP. In the long run, nobody remembers if something is late, but they'll always remember if it's bad. Let Paizo take their time to make something worth using :)


DM_aka_Dudemeister wrote:
Besides you have all of the future to run an AP. In the long run, nobody remembers if something is late, but they'll always remember if it's bad. Let Paizo take their time to make something worth using :)

A lot of people remember that Hell’s Vengeance’s guide was late.


DM_aka_Dudemeister wrote:
Besides you have all of the future to run an AP. In the long run, nobody remembers if something is late, but they'll always remember if it's bad. Let Paizo take their time to make something worth using :)

Well, yes.

At the end of the day a quality product is what everyone wants.

However, as the missing player's guide is mentioned a couple times in the Adventure Background on how you link to the story via Campaign Traits through an NPC is the plot point instead of a location (like say, any of the APs starting in Sandpoint which draw you to that location with their respective Campaign Traits), the missing content is a little more important.
The Campaign Traits are almost always of a larger importance just in tone/theme (ignoring mechanical benefits) when they are linked to a key NPC, usually to the point that subtle nods to outright additional avenues of attack for certain plot points based on which campaign trait you have.

Adam Daigle wrote:
I've been around the block enough times to be cautious with my words. I do promise that me and my team are working as hard as is applicable to releasing this free product.

Question: If this was a product you guys were charging money for again, would this situation change? (Opened the door by putting emphasis on the price point you guys are charging for the missing content that the AP cites in Book 1 itself).

Not trying to poke the bear or anything, just curious.
If this is a time/resources vs return on investment, have you guys considered devoting say the front or back cover to campaign traits, or one of Paizo's own Adverts? Shouldn't need more than a page to devote to campaign traits unless they would suddenly become a lot more robust and important because they were published in a book the public pays money for

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Xenocrat wrote:
DM_aka_Dudemeister wrote:
Besides you have all of the future to run an AP. In the long run, nobody remembers if something is late, but they'll always remember if it's bad. Let Paizo take their time to make something worth using :)
A lot of people remember that Hell’s Vengeance’s guide was late.

What difference does that make now though?

You can buy all 6 books of Hell's Vengeance and the quality Player's Guide right now, and run a Hell's Vengeance campaign no problem.

Silver Crusade

2 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
ComputerSmurf wrote:
DM_aka_Dudemeister wrote:
Besides you have all of the future to run an AP. In the long run, nobody remembers if something is late, but they'll always remember if it's bad. Let Paizo take their time to make something worth using :)

Well, yes.

At the end of the day a quality product is what everyone wants.

However, as the missing player's guide is mentioned a couple times in the Adventure Background on how you link to the story via Campaign Traits through an NPC is the plot point instead of a location (like say, any of the APs starting in Sandpoint which draw you to that location with their respective Campaign Traits), the missing content is a little more important.
The Campaign Traits are almost always of a larger importance just in tone/theme (ignoring mechanical benefits) when they are linked to a key NPC, usually to the point that subtle nods to outright additional avenues of attack for certain plot points based on which campaign trait you have.

Or you could wait another week to start the campaign, and play boardgames for a week instead? Or run a one-shot? Or literally do anything else if you feel that you can't run the adventure without the player's guide?

Like, what's the hurry?


1 person marked this as a favorite.
DM_aka_Dudemeister wrote:
Xenocrat wrote:
DM_aka_Dudemeister wrote:
Besides you have all of the future to run an AP. In the long run, nobody remembers if something is late, but they'll always remember if it's bad. Let Paizo take their time to make something worth using :)
A lot of people remember that Hell’s Vengeance’s guide was late.

What difference does that make now though?

You can buy all 6 books of Hell's Vengeance and the quality Player's Guide right now, and run a Hell's Vengeance campaign no problem.

It tells you there’s a history of not providing recent players guides on time with a high degree of certainty and you shouldn’t ever buy a first AP volume at release if your purchase decision depends on having a timely players guide. Cancel that preorder or delay your game plans.


DM_aka_Dudemeister wrote:


Or you could wait another week to start the campaign, and play boardgames for a week instead? Or run a one-shot? Or literally do anything else if you feel that you can't run the adventure without the player's guide?
Like, what's the hurry?

Yes, I could go fly a kite, learn to play a new instrument, go play games by Paizo's competitors in TTRPGs, or any other activity. These are all options that I have available to my free time.

What I choose to fill my spare time with is not the issue at hand here

The issue at hand would be that we have a product, a product that money has changed hands over mind you, referring to another product.
Normally this in and of itself is not an issue, either the data is reprinted, available in the SRD, or the other product is available.
In this case the product is not available, leading to an incomplete product. (And let's not fool ourselves here, the Player's Guides are part of the Adventure Path. As mentioned before the Campaign Traits do offer potential avenues of attack in books one, and sometimes book two as well. Or can be keystones to the story as a whole, the most recent AP to do THAT would be Strange Aeons).

With this not being the first time the issue has happened (missing Player's Guides upon launch of book 1), being vocal about the issue shows Paizo that I (and it appears other users based on other posts in this thread) do wish for them to be released at the same time as the first book if at all possible and that not having the player's guide not available when book 1 refers back to it is no bueno.

Liberty's Edge

Primogeniture. You keep using that word, I do not think it means what you think it means.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
ComputerSmurf wrote:
DM_aka_Dudemeister wrote:


Or you could wait another week to start the campaign, and play boardgames for a week instead? Or run a one-shot? Or literally do anything else if you feel that you can't run the adventure without the player's guide?
Like, what's the hurry?

Yes, I could go fly a kite, learn to play a new instrument, go play games by Paizo's competitors in TTRPGs, or any other activity. These are all options that I have available to my free time.

What I choose to fill my spare time with is not the issue at hand here

The issue at hand would be that we have a product, a product that money has changed hands over mind you, referring to another product.
Normally this in and of itself is not an issue, either the data is reprinted, available in the SRD, or the other product is available.
In this case the product is not available, leading to an incomplete product. (And let's not fool ourselves here, the Player's Guides are part of the Adventure Path. As mentioned before the Campaign Traits do offer potential avenues of attack in books one, and sometimes book two as well. Or can be keystones to the story as a whole, the most recent AP to do THAT would be Strange Aeons).

With this not being the first time the issue has happened (missing Player's Guides upon launch of book 1), being vocal about the issue shows Paizo that I (and it appears other users based on other posts in this thread) do wish for them to be released at the same time as the first book if at all possible and that not having the player's guide not available when book 1 refers back to it is no bueno.

I'm still not following as to why you need to begin running an Adventure Path on release day?


3 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I am ok with waiting, not ecstatic but ok. the reason being best to bullet,

1.I don't usually run or play an AP until all 6 volumes are out.
2.I would rather see quality then expediency from the paizo products.
3.We are getting a free pdf, so while i can be spoiled and mope about not having it, I do not wish to be mean to paizo over it. so if they are having difficulties in getting it out i'd rather be supportive then persecute them over it.

In my opinion if it is delayed a couple of weeks past the release of the first volume there is no harm on my end.

Do you best Adam and the AP team. :)

Grand Lodge

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber
ComputerSmurf wrote:
With this not being the first time the issue has happened (missing Player's Guides upon launch of book 1), being vocal about the issue shows Paizo that I (and it appears other users based on other posts in this thread) do wish for them to be released at the same time as the first book if at all possible and that not having the player's guide not available when book 1 refers back to it is no bueno.

I'm pretty sure the team already feels the same way.


I originally was writing something really long winded and wishy washy to try to say what I want to say without coming across as being whiny or overly demanding (because it always annoys me when people post things like that on these forums), but my point got lost in it, so I am going to boil it down to some simple, if blunt questions, because if all else fails, go for the socratic method, right?

1. Are the campaign traits done?

2. If they are, CAN they be released informally through a blog post or in the subforum for discussing the AP, or something like that?

3. If the answer to 1 is yes and 2 is no, why not? Is it part of a company policy or something?

Again, not trying to be combative or demand-y, just trying to understand, because right now I guess I don't know enough about how this stuff works to properly estimate what I can reasonably expect in these regards, as this is the first time I've ever really seriously considered buying an AP, and also I have always been curious about how game design stuff works anyway.


All I can say is I too wait for more volumes to come out before I worry about whether or not I need a player's guide.


2 people marked this as a favorite.
Adam Daigle wrote:

^^This.

I've been around the block enough times to be cautious with my words. I do promise that me and my team are working as hard as is applicable to releasing this free product.

O_O

BWAHAHAHA!

THANKS! I just laugh-exploded my coffee all over my keyboard! aw... wow... thanks... I seriously needed the laugh here... been a long day. :)


psychie wrote:
1. Are the campaign traits done?

Have they been released? same diff... work you build and save a spot for a campaign trait, which is mandatory most time. You're welcome! :)

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