Pathfinder Adventure Path #133: Secrets of Roderic's Cove (Return of the Runelords 1 of 6)

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Pathfinder Adventure Path #133: Secrets of Roderic's Cove (Return of the Runelords 1 of 6)

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Wrath Shall Reign!

When one runelord rose from his slumber, the frontier nation of Varisia shook with his power, and it took a band of heroes to save the world. Yet there remained six other runelords, and now the most wrathful of them all has woken! As the runelords waken one after another, the dangers and perils faced by past heroes pale in comparison. When a mysterious and fearful ghost manifests on the streets of Roderic's Cove at the same time the town's gangs use the runes and legacies of ancient Thassilonian tyrants for their own ends, a new band of heroes must rise to save Varisia, and perhaps the world, from the return of the runelords!

This volume of Pathfinder Adventure Path begins the Return of the Runelords Adventure Path and includes:

  • "Secrets of Roderic's Cove," a Pathfinder adventure for 1st-level characters, by Adam Daigle.
  • An exploration and gazetteer of the town of Roderic's Cove and its inhabitants, by Adam Daigle.
  • An extensive timeline of the history of Thassilon, revelations about the methods used by each runelord to avoid destruction during the apocalypse of Earthfall, and notes for Game Masters on the roles each runelord plays in this Adventure Path, by James Jacobs.
  • A bestiary of monsters lurking around Varisia, including the child-stealing nochlean and the innocuous-looking warpglass ooze, by Mikko Kallio, Luis Loza, Jacob W. Michaels, and Conor J. Owens.

ISBN-13: 978-1-64078-062-0

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

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Starts poorly, picks up a bit midstream, and ends with a whimper

2/5

This is, unfortunately, a mediocre adventure. It's blandly written, with poorly thought out plot and character motivations, and lack of attention to detail. An unfortunate trend with Paizo is the bland nature of their module writing, such that nearly every location feels the same. Roderic's Cove becomes easily interchangeable with Breechill in Hellknight Hill or Etran's Folly Fall of Plaguestone. Sense of place and immersion has fallen by the wayside.

Cover art is excellent. However, though some interior art is decent, much of it is cartoonish and subpar.

Maps are fine, though they all are encounter maps. Given the number of disparate encounter locations throughout the adventure, the absence of a regional map is unfortunate and notable. Paizo would also do well to start including a small map, as they did with their early adventures, illustrating where on Golarion the setting is to be found.

Part 1:

Let's highlight a positive to start: The young boy Kynae's motivations and characterization are very well thought out and written. Nicely done.

Jana's actions make no sense, and her motivations are not sufficiently explained. It defies credulity that anyone would follow her or try to better themselves and their station by forming a gang called "The Horned Fangs" while living under the town.

For some reason, the town authorities are blithely unconcerned about the murder of 6 people in town. However, they encourage the PCs to investigate, naturally!

Part 2:

Spiders and cockroaches aggressively attack the PCs when the characters enter the room the creatures are in, running contrary to any evolutionary survival instincts the creatures would have. Far better would it have been for the critters to only attack PCs who invaded their specific homes - investigating under floorboards, etc.

Other than the faux pas with the vermin, Roderic's Wreck is very well put-together, flavorful and evocative, with well-placed and appropriate haunts, though the sewing haunt is a bit much.

The intro states that Roderic didn't realize the sword he found in an ancient Thassilonian ruin was Baraket, the sword of pride. Curiously enough, the sword case he kept the weapon in is labeled "Baraket". Oops. As well, in his conversation with the PC's, Roderic's ghost warns them about Baraket controlling them. Double-oops. Later, he even refers to Baraket as a Sword of Sin. Triple-oops.

By the way, the module insists that PCs won't earn XP as normal if they happen to defeat Roderic's ghost. Extremely lame.

Some creatures encountered can seem a bit forced. For instance, attic whisperers form as a result of a lonely or neglected child's death and linger in the places where they were formed. Since this module states that Roderic's children were well-loved, the attic-whisperer, as cool as it is, doesn't seem to be thematically appropriate here.

Part 3:

This section is mixed consisting of initially trite encounters with bandits and goblins followed by very solid encounters at Stonehouse and Alaznist's Armory. Generally well-done here, though it's extremely weird that the Roadkeeper bandits are led by an old woman.

Part 4:

Peacock Manor is fairly well crafted, but rooms are not properly described, with a lack of attention to detail. This is especially notable in the scriptorium and library, where not a single specific tome is listed. Poor show. Adventure designers, take note: if space is an issue, simply have fewer rooms, but describe each remaining in detail.

As well, morale becomes an afterthought, with singular opponents apparently not at all caring for their lives while facing off to the death against a full party of adventurers.

Completely weird and out of place that Corstela has an assistant who's a cambion. Apparently, they formed a friendship for some reason long ago. No information is given as to the cambion's motivations. At least he has an incredibly cheesy name: "Pridebound Assistant". As if anyone calls him that.

Part 5:

And now we arrive at the Underflume, where the plot issues rise to the fore. To begin, it makes no sense that Galeena, the owner of Creekside Tavern, would rent out her storeroom, which connects to her valuable and secret cold storage room (kept at a constant 40 degrees F by the way) to Jana, a drunk who was allowed to "sleep off a bender" there. As well, the "secret" door that Jana discovered in the cold storage room, while drunk apparently, is labeled as a normal door on the map.

Jana's actions based on her motivations make no sense. She wants to get Roderic's Cove on her side to help gain revenge on the criminal elements in Riddleport that doomed her mother? Ok, then why does she form a criminal gang called the "Horned Fangs" and live under the town?

The room descriptions and encounters in the Underflume are very underwhelming. Far too much effort went into describing what the rooms were used for 10,000 years ago vs. focusing on making them interesting places to explore now. As it stands, the place seems like it was far more interesting 10 millenia ago.

The Alaznist haunt in H20 is extremely cheesy and ham-handed, treating the players like children in the manner in which it forces plot reveals down their throats.

Roderic's Cove Gazeteer:

Very bland and not believalable. The town is described as being small and insular, full of gossiping, superstitious people, but is presented as exactly the opposite, full of people completely tolerant and accepting of gender and racial equality.

This illustrates one of the primary issues with Paizo products these days - since Paizo takes pains to virtue-signal political-correctness, all of their non-evil towns feel exactly the same. All are exemplars of racial and gender harmony and equity, unless they are explicitly matriarchies. This really ruins the verisimilitude of the world, instead making it a pale reflection of our own real-world left-wing politics.

Bestiary:

Notably poor, full of silly creatures.

As with all Pathfinder products, the unfortunate gender activism is present here, with all leaders being female. Yes, even the gang leaders are female. Makes perfect sense! Pretty soon, every Good-aligned nation, city, town, and village in Golarion will be ruled by a female. This falls once again in-line with Paizo's verisimilitude-shattering habit of assigning gender-equality or matriarchy to seemingly all non-evil communities. (-1 star)

The relative quality of Roderic's Wreck saves this from being a 1-star review.


Fun Adventure Path for Your Varisian Legacy Characters!

5/5


A Strong Start to an Epic Campaign

4/5

Secrets of Roderic's Cove serves well as the start of the Rise of the Runelords adventure path and is strong enough in its own right to serve as a stand-alone adventure if desired. Since it covers a level 1-5 range, it could even serve as an entire campaign for somebody using the Beginner's Box if desired.

The town of Roderic's Cove has many problems, from a mini-gang war to the appearance of the ghost of the town founder. The order in which the PCs solve these problems depends on their choices. All told, the adventure features several dungeons, a monster-filled wilderness, a haunted house, and a mansion whose infiltration calls for stealth and guile. This is in addition to several encounters in the town itself, from monsters that attack in the night to the chaos caused by a renegade grimple.

Secrets of Roderic's Cove is much more of a sandbox than most other 1st-level adventures, and it serves well to establish the PCs as individuals with their own agency. The adventure path calls for a group that is willing to be proactive and solve problems in their own way, and this adventure sets that tone nicely.

It would have been nice to see more guidance in certain areas - the aforementioned mansion could be difficult to run for a GM who doesn't handle infiltration missions well, for example. I also miss certain adventure path features such as the foreword and the fiction, but I understand that certain sacrifices have to be made for the line's first 1-20 non-mythic adventure path. Overall, this book is a strong start to a campaign and a good adventure to have even if you don't plan to run the full path.


Third Time's the Charm

4/5

First, let me qualify this review. This is not a read-through review; our group has played this adventure and it’s not all that different from any of the other introductory modules of which we've played in nearly half of the APs Paizo has published over the past decade. It is quite serviceable and, as advertised, disposable pulp fantasy, complete with the requisite tropes. If you're looking for award-winning prose or groundbreaking character development, it is in short supply, but this seems to be standard and the norm for monthly canned modules like these. Even so, there's a lot for GMs to work with: a fleshed-out location with ample NPCs, a clear tie in to the next module, and enemies who, if played with nuance, skirt the line between ally and enemy. The encounters are appropriately difficult for a system that's now so bloated with exploits. Groups looking for cheap thrills and plenty of them will be satisfied as the module trends towards quick advancement and steady, generous treasure acquisition. Does it need some extra love from the GM, well yes – show me a module that does not. Does it live up to the previous installments in the Runelord franchise, I'd say, yes, close. We lack singing goblins in this one, but, memory has a funny way of making those past installments better than they actually were and it's challenging to go up against that type of nostalgia in a world increasingly suffused with critics.


Of six ap’s this is the worst

1/5

Into book three of this ap; have played six other ap’s and this is hands down the worst ap. The story is extremely underwhelming and feels like it was written as a “where are they now” tour of previous ap’s. If you want to take a tour of previous ap's NPCs and locations then this is the ap for you. If you want a good story I’d try any number of other ap’s.


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5 people marked this as a favorite.
Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

At this point in time the entire previous AP has 84 comments over the six issues. This single 1st Adv of the AP has 150. I think people are looking forward to this...


Super glad I stumbled across this thread!! So excited for this AP!


I hope Wayne is doing the cover art for these :P


1 person marked this as a favorite.

I want this now, I can has please?

Also if as James said Runelords was a trilogy idea is Shattered Star #2 with this being #3?

Silver Crusade

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

Yep.


That is a good question, who is the cover artist for this AP?

Also why no mock-up cover art?


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

Because it wasn't supposed to be revealed yet.

Is my guess.


Yeah I mean they don't reveal cover art some times, even a placeholder for AP, until they're like half way through the last one.


Nice. But somehow I don't think I'm going to talk my original Runelords GM to run this one for the same group (or get the same group back together).


Sweet!! We have cover art! And it's SORSHEN! :DD *faints and dies*

Sovereign Court

3 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion Subscriber

That's the mockup - the current art is from Inner Sea Magic and Pathfinder Adventure Path #66: The Dead Heart of Xin, respectively.


We have place holder cover art:)


Kal,

It's still better than just blank-ness...but yes I know it's a mockup.


Man, imagine how cunning and powerful Sorshen and Xanderghul must have been to have reigned from the founding of their nations to the ending of them over a thousand years later. Also, I wonder if we'll get an update on Magnimar's situation after the events of the Shattered Star Adventure Path.

Considering that Sheila Heidmarch and the Pathfinder Society bore partial responsibility for the calamity that befell Magnimar during the rise of Xin, I'm thinking Shelia and her husband had to finagle a great deal of financial assistance from the Decemvirate to aid in the City of Monuments recovery.

Dark Archive

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Rather wouldn't have them make assumptions regarding that, some parties might actually be smart enough to prepare wish scroll in advance <_< I mean, there are lot of hints that SOMETHING will happen if artifact is united.


Adventure Path Charter Subscriber

Maybe a wizard or a sorcerer in the group may be related some how and sense a return of this Runelord? Then for or against it, who's to say!


2 people marked this as a favorite.

It'll be shocking to me if this Adventure Path doesn't have the PC's go mythic. Sorshen and Xanderghul are two of the most powerful arcane casters the Inner Sea ever saw in it's history and are comparable in terms of power with the Whispering Tyrant.


Well I mean if Tar-Barphon had been around before Earthfall...I'm pretty sure he'd have been the next Runelord of Greed. :)

Grand Lodge

3 people marked this as a favorite.
Berselius wrote:
It'll be shocking to me if this Adventure Path doesn't have the PC's go mythic. Sorshen and Xanderghul are two of the most powerful arcane casters the Inner Sea ever saw in it's history and are comparable in terms of power with the Whispering Tyrant.

It was comfirmed by JJ in another thread that they will not be using Mythic Tiers for the PCs, but will be going up to level 20.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

I don't remember reading anything that would make me think Tar-Barphon could be a Runelord for Greed, Pride on the other hand would really fit, maybe even Envy or Gluttony. Though he would have to be a specialist in Sin magic to begin with and he is not even a specialist wizard.


Dragon,

I meant Gluttony...

Grand Lodge

Roderick's Cove? "looks it up" ....oh! Riddleport, nice. well it should be nice when it comes out but we'll wait and see


Well it's NEAR Riddleport, yes...

Paizo Employee Managing Developer

3 people marked this as a favorite.

Plus, the two places don't necessarily get along.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Just wondering which iconics will be showing up in this adventure path. The inquisitor showed up on the cover of #3, any idea which others will be used??

Paizo Employee Creative Director

5 people marked this as a favorite.
Bunch of Grapes wrote:
Just wondering which iconics will be showing up in this adventure path. The inquisitor showed up on the cover of #3, any idea which others will be used??

The primary heroes of this Adventure Path are the Swashbuckler, the Witch, the Oracle, and the Medium. Some of the following will have cameos: Rogue, Cleric, Fighter, Sorcerer.

(We haven't yet revealed any of the actual final covers for this Adventure Path yet.)


1 person marked this as a favorite.
James Jacobs wrote:


The primary heroes of this Adventure Path are the Swashbuckler, the Witch, the Oracle, and the Medium. Some of the following will have cameos: Rogue, Cleric, Fighter, Sorcerer.

(We haven't yet revealed any of the actual final covers for this Adventure Path yet.)

I like when we get a "Charlie´s Angels" formation.


James Jacobs wrote:
Bunch of Grapes wrote:
Just wondering which iconics will be showing up in this adventure path. The inquisitor showed up on the cover of #3, any idea which others will be used??

The primary heroes of this Adventure Path are the Swashbuckler, the Witch, the Oracle, and the Medium. Some of the following will have cameos: Rogue, Cleric, Fighter, Sorcerer.

(We haven't yet revealed any of the actual final covers for this Adventure Path yet.)

Is WR doing the art for these ?

Paizo Employee Creative Director

nighttree wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:
Bunch of Grapes wrote:
Just wondering which iconics will be showing up in this adventure path. The inquisitor showed up on the cover of #3, any idea which others will be used??

The primary heroes of this Adventure Path are the Swashbuckler, the Witch, the Oracle, and the Medium. Some of the following will have cameos: Rogue, Cleric, Fighter, Sorcerer.

(We haven't yet revealed any of the actual final covers for this Adventure Path yet.)

Is WR doing the art for these ?

Nope.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Hmm. Shame that Wayne Reynolds isn’t doing cover art, but perfectly understandable.


James Jacobs wrote:
nighttree wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:
Bunch of Grapes wrote:
Just wondering which iconics will be showing up in this adventure path. The inquisitor showed up on the cover of #3, any idea which others will be used??

The primary heroes of this Adventure Path are the Swashbuckler, the Witch, the Oracle, and the Medium. Some of the following will have cameos: Rogue, Cleric, Fighter, Sorcerer.

(We haven't yet revealed any of the actual final covers for this Adventure Path yet.)

Is WR doing the art for these ?
Nope.

.....that's disappointing :(


I was suprised that this was not actually the final AP for P1e - would have made a perfect bookend! But it makes me even more intrigued about the Topic of the last one. Looking over at the playtest Forum, it's probably Rise of the Goblin Civilisation ;)


the Last one is going to tie up ALLLLLLLLLL the loose ends from the last 136 AP booklets! (he says in a completely convincing, but totally sardonic voice).


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

Release Roderick!

;)

Sovereign Court

6 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion Subscriber
The_Minstrel_Wyrm wrote:
Hmm. Shame that Wayne Reynolds isn’t doing cover art, but perfectly understandable.

Based on recent announcements, I suspect he may be busy furnishing art for the upcoming hardcover. ^_^


Planar Adventures or something else Kal?


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Paizo Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Thomas Seitz wrote:
Planar Adventures or something else Kal?

Probably the playtest rulebook.

Sovereign Court

3 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion Subscriber
Zaister wrote:
Thomas Seitz wrote:
Planar Adventures or something else Kal?
Probably the playtest rulebook.

Indeed. Iconics, big splashy art pieces, ancestry/class examples... it looks like there's going to be a lot of WAR in that book. Return of the Runelords will get by, I'm sure. ^_^

Paizo Employee Managing Developer

9 people marked this as a favorite.

I'm super happy with the cover artist for this Adventure Path!


Since no one asked it: PF original or 2.0?


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
GreatKhanArtist wrote:
Since no one asked it: PF original or 2.0?

This one and the so far unnamed following AP are both for PF1e.


2 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
DerNils wrote:
I was suprised that this was not actually the final AP for P1e - would have made a perfect bookend! But it makes me even more intrigued about the Topic of the last one. Looking over at the playtest Forum, it's probably Rise of the Goblin Civilisation ;)

I dearly hope it involves Nocticula.


James Jacobs wrote:
Bunch of Grapes wrote:
Just wondering which iconics will be showing up in this adventure path. The inquisitor showed up on the cover of #3, any idea which others will be used??

The primary heroes of this Adventure Path are the Swashbuckler, the Witch, the Oracle, and the Medium. Some of the following will have cameos: Rogue, Cleric, Fighter, Sorcerer.

(We haven't yet revealed any of the actual final covers for this Adventure Path yet.)

Is this the first time that more than four iconics have appeared in an adventure path?


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Nick O'Connell wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:
Bunch of Grapes wrote:
Just wondering which iconics will be showing up in this adventure path. The inquisitor showed up on the cover of #3, any idea which others will be used??

The primary heroes of this Adventure Path are the Swashbuckler, the Witch, the Oracle, and the Medium. Some of the following will have cameos: Rogue, Cleric, Fighter, Sorcerer.

(We haven't yet revealed any of the actual final covers for this Adventure Path yet.)

Is this the first time that more than four iconics have appeared in an adventure path?

Pretty sure, yes - this is the first time additional iconics have been used.

They said there would be explanations as to what happened to the original PCs from RotRL (and why they are unable to tackle this task) - and seeing as how the Rogue, Cleric, Fighter, and Sorcerer were the iconics from Rise, it makes sense they would appear in the AP.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Cat Whisperer wrote:
Nick O'Connell wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:
Bunch of Grapes wrote:
Just wondering which iconics will be showing up in this adventure path. The inquisitor showed up on the cover of #3, any idea which others will be used??

The primary heroes of this Adventure Path are the Swashbuckler, the Witch, the Oracle, and the Medium. Some of the following will have cameos: Rogue, Cleric, Fighter, Sorcerer.

(We haven't yet revealed any of the actual final covers for this Adventure Path yet.)

Is this the first time that more than four iconics have appeared in an adventure path?

Pretty sure, yes - this is the first time additional iconics have been used.

They said there would be explanations as to what happened to the original PCs from RotRL (and why they are unable to tackle this task) - and seeing as how the Rogue, Cleric, Fighter, and Sorcerer were the iconics from Rise, it makes sense they would appear in the AP.

It depends on what you mean by "appear in an AP." Strange Aeons 6 had some extra iconics show up in the art for the "continuing the campaign on alternate 1920s earth" article, but not in the adventure proper.

Dark Archive

Has the description been updated or am i wrong?
The pdf date seems also new...

Web Product Manager

3 people marked this as a favorite.

Updated with final product description and cover image!


Yaaas! Ekaterina Burmak! That has to be the sweetest cover since...forever!


6 people marked this as a favorite.

Hey, that's *my* name! (In all seriousness, I'm very excited for my first AP contribution.)

Paizo Employee Managing Developer

3 people marked this as a favorite.
Heine Stick wrote:
Yaaas! Ekaterina Burmak! That has to be the sweetest cover since...forever!

I was SOOOO excited when I learned that she was going to be doing the covers. I love her work so so so much!

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