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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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


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


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


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


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 Employee Starfinder Society Developer

22 people marked this as a favorite.

I will have you all know, I spend a lot of time reading Wikipedia articles, thank you very much!

That being said...

I'd like to avoid any sort of long debates on the topic, but I do want to point out one thing for those concerned about the overall premise of the Adventure Path based on recent comments in this thread. The use of the word "primogeniture" in context of this adventure (and basically the whole AP) is in reference to a specific Taldan law that shares the same name. The first reference of primogeniture within the adventure states: " vote down the ancient _law_ of primogeniture."

Primogeniture in this context not about some Earth equivalent word or some established set of rules that was once followed on Earth and magically ported over into Golarion; this use of the word is specifically addressing an ancient law that the _fictional nation of Taldor_ has followed for a long time. Yes, the word has contextual history and meaning in our world, but to the people of Taldor (again, a fictional nation) this is the name they chose for a law that determines their succession of nobility and how it works. Much like the application of real world primogeniture, of which there are numerous variants (as per, funnily enough, the Wikipedia article.) Taldor has its own application of the word and an associated meaning. In this case, primogeniture is a law that's become tradition that was established in their early politics. The Senate's involvement in its repeal is the direct result of it being a Taldan law that requires the Senate to overrule it.

Anyways, I hope that helps! If it doesn't, and this particular word choice is still a major impediment to your enjoyment of what I hope is an otherwise fun and enjoyable adventure... I'm sorry.*

The author [[Under the amazing guidance of his Developer Supreme, Crystal Frasier!]]

* Canadianism (spoken from a man who dutifully serves his Queen——a monarch who also shows up the his $20 bills!)

Liberty's Edge Developer

23 people marked this as a favorite.

I'm the developer for War for the Crown, and I specifically elected to go with the word "primogeniture" rather than delve into pedantry about specific subcategories of a tradition that was getting overturned before the PCs really become involved in the action. If my choice for brevity over specifics offends you, I really don't have anything I can say in response to that.

It's not changing. Feel free that add additional adjectives to it in your game, or if it breaks the world for you, simply skip this Adventure Path.

Paizo Employee Franchise Manager

8 people marked this as a favorite.

BUT, since this is a product thread and we're now WAAAAAY off-topic, may I suggest any gripes about what word Taldans use to describe their laws of succession be moved to their own thread rather than continue to muddy this one? People are going to have to scroll through so much grar just to see if the player's guide has been released yet.

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Mark Moreland wrote:
BUT, since this is a product thread and we're now WAAAAAY off-topic, may I suggest any gripes about what word Taldans use to describe their laws of succession be moved to their own thread rather than continue to muddy this one? People are going to have to scroll through so much grar just to see if the player's guide has been released yet.

You are going to announce that HERE? sweet

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