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

3.00/5 (based on 7 ratings)
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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Underwhelming.

1/5

The underlying structure of this story is not great, and the writing doesn't help. For the first book in an Adventure Path, this one leaves me underwhelmed and slightly nervous to see what follows. It seems like a rough first draft, and it gives me the same impression of Ultimate Wilderness, where not enough time was taken to craft a publication that is worth distributing. I hope it was just a one-time thing, and that the next books will be back up to the usual standard of quality for APs.

I find that the AP books are increasingly filled with great ideas, and the quality has been top-notch for quite a while. When I read this book, I was constantly thinking about how I'd have to re-work things to make the story coherent, or thinking of details I'd have to add where none are provided in the book.

The text (room descriptions, faction descriptions, NPC description) gives very little fuel for the imagination. They largely focus on back-story that is irrelevant to what the PCs might encounter.

SPOILERS:

For example, one room takes an entire paragraph to describe where the long-dead family sat in this room when they ate their meals. That does nothing for me as a DM. Instead, why not say that the following can be found in the room: "A child's toy; a carved drawing on the table. An old bracket on the window where a telescope used to be. A hand-crafted high chair for the youngest child that's now rotting." Something that the characters could actually discover. I find myself continually frustrated by the unusable text in the book that makes it a chore to read.

Some room descriptions simply repeat what's obvious on the map (and also given in the read aloud text): "This hallway stretches from the front door and curves at a right angle before ending. A set of rickety stairs ascends to the house's second story." This is obvious from the map, and to make it worse, the read-aloud also says: "A set of stairs rises to the next floor, and the hallway turns sharply to the north past the staircase." None of this adds anything I couldn't just tell the players from looking at the map.

There are four different groups involved in this book, and the relationships between them are over-complicated and unnecessary. Several of the groups are hard to realistically imagine living in the town. The groups (and all areas) also feel static, like they're waiting for the PCs to arrive to interact with them. The descriptions of the groups are insufficient to determine more dynamic interactions and motivations, and these brief descriptions sometime contradict the way they're encountered.

For example, there is a group of "frustrated workers and struggling individuals from the lower classes who hope to make a better place for themselves in Roderic's Cove - a sort of informal and rough-around-the edges labourer's guild." This sounds very realistic and compelling to me. However, the group is named the "Horned Fangs", and their members seem to be hanging out in a dungeon, waiting to attack. All the verisimilitude is lost, as is the potential complexity of dealing with co-opted members of the town.

Another group is led by an old witch-like oracle who seems completely out of place with the rest of her members, and there is literally zero description about her motivations, or why she leads the group.

The macguffin in the book could provide a great lead-in to the dangers of the following books, but everything is strangely capped off at the end of the book. The only motivation the PCs have at the end is to follow an NPC's advice to research the macguffin they found. I can think of a number of ways this could have been done better. (The macguffin also uses a power at the start of the story that is not usable by PCs. There is some description of why this happens, but it will never be obvious to the PCs, and is potentially confusing).

TL:DR - This book doesn't match up to the usual quality of PF AP's. I'm writing this to express my concern, and my hope that the next books in this AP match what we expect in terms of cohesive and compelling writing, and as a tool for GM's to create great stories from.


Sins of the Past

4/5

I have written this twice now, and I keep getting timed out so, quick version. I like this adventure; good story, and set up. challenging encounters, and investigations. Consequences to the PC's actions, and the written structure of the adventure is set up to greatly assist a GM. Downsides though, there are several difficult, if not impossible for their level, skill checks that give the PC's important information, that they may not get. Could leave some PC's un-invested in the developments. There are NPC's to balance this, but can feel like hand-holding for some. Despite the flaws, I enjoyed the first volume, and can't wait for the next.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

In the PG's Circle Market Hunting Guide is each bargain item supposed to be at 10% 'off' its normal price? Or is it as written?

Paizo Employee Creative Director

2 people marked this as a favorite.

Yes. 10% off normal price.

Dark Archive

I had a rather interesting misprint, my copy has pages (1)/2,3/4,5/6 so on to 15/16 then (1)/2, but then 17/18, to 91/92 and ad inserts.

So basically I got Part 1 twice.

Is this a thing that happened to anyone else?


Varian - misprints like that happen. I've picked up a couple books like that in the past. If you send an email to customer service, they will help you out.


I got to play in my first session of Return tonight. We had a lot of fun and I like the way things are being set up. I'm super excited to see how it all plays out!

Paizo Employee Managing Developer

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Varian Seth wrote:

I had a rather interesting misprint, my copy has pages (1)/2,3/4,5/6 so on to 15/16 then (1)/2, but then 17/18, to 91/92 and ad inserts.

So basically I got Part 1 twice.

Is this a thing that happened to anyone else?

Brother Fen is right. This unfortunately happens sometimes in mass printing. A message to customer service with the order number, details of the issue, and maybe a photo of the issue will sort this out.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
James Jacobs wrote:
Yes. 10% off normal price.

Thanks, that's how I read it anyway. My teenage sons will now be sorry they pointed it out to me before we started play.


So, uh, I'm confuzzeled, are we going to get the stats of the Runelords as they were before Earthfall hit (aka at the height of their power) or are we just going to get a few of them in their new forms? Don't get me wrong, I'm glad for whatever we get but I'm hoping one of the last things Paizo does with 1st edition Pathfinder RPG is giving us the post-Earthfall stats for the Runelords. That would be really awesome in case we'd want to use them for our own independent campaigns! :D


I just kind of hope we get the stats for the other rods of rule. So far we've gotten two.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

2 people marked this as a favorite.
Berselius wrote:
So, uh, I'm confuzzeled, are we going to get the stats of the Runelords as they were before Earthfall hit (aka at the height of their power) or are we just going to get a few of them in their new forms? Don't get me wrong, I'm glad for whatever we get but I'm hoping one of the last things Paizo does with 1st edition Pathfinder RPG is giving us the post-Earthfall stats for the Runelords. That would be really awesome in case we'd want to use them for our own independent campaigns! :D

It's kinda all over the place. You'll see as the adventures come out. Some will have stats at the height of their power, some won't. It depends on how they interface with the plot.

Liberty's Edge

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

Sorry guys. Going to have a bit of a grumble. I found Secrets to be pretty underwhelming and dull.

I won't presume to do a formal review of the adventure, but I have to say:
- the different groups involved were very static and really there was little or no development on their behalf throughout the adventure;
- there was no feel of a real threat to the town and the different gangs involved were pretty uninteresting and pretty forgettable;
- the locations had been done before and often in a better way - mansions, haunted house, dungeons under a flume, etc;
- none of the locations really felt alive, they were really passive, just waiting for the characters to wade through them;
- the town of Roderic's Cove was pretty uninspiring and with few plot hooks to really make the characters feel at home in town
-the Thassollian lore was pretty limited and the threat posed by Azalinst seemed distant at best
- the treasure seemed totally over the top in some areas (7,000 gp in one chest alone) and pretty generic in others.

All in all. Ehh...

Sorry I don't normally complain about these things. But as someone who has subscribed from the very first AP - I just expected something more inspiring for a return to the much beloved Runelords story arc.

The difference between this and Burnt Offerings was pretty noticeable.

I hope it is just a aberration and that the rest of the AP gets back on track quickly..

Sorry for being a grump.

Ash

Dark Archive

Hmm, I'd say you probably shouldn't have expected new version of Burnt Offerings though. Burnt Offerings is special in that it works best as first ever campaign game for newbie pathfinder player, Secrets of Roderics' cove is written in way that seems to appeal to players who have played both previous parts of trilogy. There are lot of references to Thassilonian lore mentioned previously and at least few spoilerific thing which get people who know about Thassilon stuff get excited.


I also feel like this book is pretty weak. I'm going to carefully read the whole thing then write a review. Gonna have to do a fair bit of work as a GM to make Rodericks Cove feel like a liveable town. Just as a start (without spoiling anything):

(1) The 'factions' seem like simplistic caricatures that I think my players will have a hard time believing in. One group in particular seems really divorced from the look and feel of the rest of the town.

(2) The main NPC descriptions aren't very evocative - they don't stir my imagination or add complexity or depth that I could add subplot to.

(3) The Macguffin in this book uses a power that is dormant, for a moment, but it doesn't adequately explain why that powerful latent power arose at such an innocuous time. I think that could have been better considered or explained.

(4) Some witnesses suspect something that the PCs have already seen. (p.7). I need to give them something more to say, rather than just banging the PCs over the head something they already suspect.

(5) No Adventure Summary at the start of the book.

And I'm only on page 9 (and the NPC section) so far.

I hope it's just this book and not some overall issue with the whole AP.


2 people marked this as a favorite.
Adventure Path Charter Subscriber

Big thumbs up to the mapping! Specifically, little details about where smaller things are (I had been sketching these in myself and often guessing) and the door openings (I've been rolling 1d4 to decide left/right/in/out, then forgetting which one I had for which direction and having to roll again...)

I also have a general approval for what seems to be a greater availability and better integration of non-combat XP. Not that there's anything wrong with slaughtering hordes of evil mooks, mind you... but I appreciate the textual support for a non-hack-and-slash play mode.
1) Specific details and rewards for pieces of plot advancement, and bonuses when done "well".
2) Redeemable (and not always "Evil") antagonists. There are still some "made out of evil in a pot full of evil" villains and "you can't reason with this rabid wolf" scenarios, and there is space for most or all of the baddies being played as mustache-twirling black hats if you so choose. But between several of the antagonists being at odds at each other, and having goals that seem laudable or at least understandable, even a few of the Evil aligned characters seem less like bags of XP to pop with your sword and more like someone to work around (or with). This depends on your table's play style, of course. But I'm glad we were given enough bones with which to build.
(Of course, going too far in this direction, you end up with your PCs trying to befriend everyone they meet and bring them along everywhere and having a cast of thousands...)

Sovereign Court

(SPoiler warning)

In the stonehouse there is a creature, and a treasure, and in that treasure is a 7x Slim Platinum rods worth 1000 each.

1000gp each or 1000pp each. it is not clearly labeled.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

We finished book one! Woo hoo!!!

Next up, Hollow Mountain!

Paizo Employee Managing Developer

Yay! I hope y'all had a good time!


We did enjoy it. We all really enjoyed the chance to tie-in legacy characters from previous APs. This adventure is ripe with opportunities for roleplay and interaction with the various factions. My Varisian bard with a fascination for Thassilon and Azlant found plenty to keep him interested.

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