Pathfinder Adventure Path #135: Runeplague (Return of the Runelords 3 of 6)

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Pathfinder Adventure Path #135: Runeplague (Return of the Runelords 3 of 6)

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Runelords Rising!

Varisia has long survived in the footprint of the ancient nation of Thassilon, but now the powerful runelords who once ruled that realm are waking from their centuries-long slumber, hurtling this frontier nation—and the entire world—toward great danger. The latest manifestation of peril facing Varisia's newest group of heroes is a hideous plague that threatens to spill into the streets of Magnimar and spread to the other major cities of the region, transforming beggar and prince alike into slavering monsters. Which of the runelords might rise next, and are all of them equally dangerous? Could some of them even become the heroes' allies? And what is causing a series of strange visions and otherworldly invaders to haunt and harry the heroes?

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

  • "Runeplague," a Pathfinder adventure for 8th-level characters, by Richard Pett.
  • Details on the vile faith and horrific cults of Yamasoth, the Polymorph Plague, by Jason Keeley.
  • An exploration of the legends and true natures of magic pools around Golarion, by Eleanor Ferron.
  • A bestiary of monsters, including the artistic yet alien ashullian, a disturbing manifestation of grim emotion known as the misery siktempora, and the eerily silent kasthezvi, by Mike Kimmel, Andrew Mullen, Richard Pett, and Jeffrey Swank.

ISBN-13: 978-1-64078-079-8

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

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A feast of Content

****( )

This is one of the more interestingly put together adventure paths I have ever read. As with previous volumes, there is considerable challenge presented here, and not just for players. This Adventure continues the trend of giving out clues to PC’s with incredibly high DC’s in order to get any information. This is not an adventure for new players, or even beginning Game masters, as the amount of note taking will be considerable. This adventure also begins to introduce the time traveling elements that will be taking part in the later volumes of the adventure path, and provides some ideas as to demonstrate that things are changing around the PCs. This is a very good section, and gives me plenty of ideas on how to implement this, but I feel it should have been covered in an earlier volume, so that canny GM’s could have been taking notes throughout the adventure and give the players a greater sense of change. This adventure also provides several opportunities for good roleplay between the PC’s, as well as NPC’s introduced here, and in previous titles. These sections are always limited in scope, and provide some ideas, but doesn’t force the roleplay, or leave it completely to the GM. Enough is provided to give the GM a head start, without taking up too much time. This adventure has multiple call backs to previous adventure paths as well, and not just from Return of the Runelords. Characters form Rise of the Runelords, Second Darkness, Wrath of the Righteous, and Curse of the Crimson Throne, but just like the roleplay, it is not forced onto the players; if you have players who went through those games, it just makes the appearances a fun twist, but doesn’t intrude on the action. I also favored the tasks presented here, being both varied and thematically interesting. I can’t say much without spoilers, but each event feels different from the last, and I feel can be very engaging for the players. With all this praise, you must be thinking this sounds like a near perfect adventure, and that is not the case unfortunately. While what is provided is good, and nearly all of it is new, the book accomplishes this by providing multiple sources that are used for this adventure, a total of 7 by my final count. These cover the various cities, and sites the players visit. None of them are detailed in the text, which works to it’s advantage in a way. The text however provides only the bare minimum of information needed to get the PC’s to their destinations, and anything they choose to do while at these cities, or how they get there is dependent on the GM, and more often than not would require these references. Even more so for the final encounter which requires the PC’s to perform a ritual, which was only detailed in a separate text. This feeds into the idea that this is not an adventure for new GM’s or players. Because of all this, this particular chapter could be the longest of all the modules presented in Return of the Runelords. Don’t get me wrong, what is here, I like, and would love to run this adventure myself. But this will require much more work than a typical adventure path, and you should know that going in.


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Dark Archive

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Alrighty to get the ball rolling

Spoiler:
whats the general plot like and are any of the runelords stated up?


1 person marked this as a favorite.

I'd want to know the names, CR, types and subtypes of the monsters.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
HTD wrote:
I'd want to know the names, CR, types and subtypes of the monsters.

Fun stuff!

Spoiler:

Reckless Revelry - NE Haunt - CR 11
Yamasoth's Touch - CE Haunt - CR 9
Ardoc Moilant - N Construct - CR 10
Ashullian - CE outsider (native, water) - CR 11
Kasthezvi - LE aberration (shapechanger) - CR 12
Siktempora, Misery - CE outsider (chaotic, evil, extraplanar) - CR 12

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I'm annoyed because of bad luck :'D It would have shipped today for me, but transaction was canceled and had to fix it so now I have to wait for it to be shipped again


Any chance you could talk about the haunts, Dabus? Or Misery?

Liberty's Edge

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber

Hmm overall this looks like a lot of fun. My only quibble is that the maps are lackluster.

Is it me or have the maps overall dropped in quality? It's something I've also noticed in the Starfinder AP books.

Scarab Sages

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Thomas Seitz wrote:
Any chance you could talk about the haunts, Dabus? Or Misery?

Haunts!:

Reckless revelry is the spirits of some massacred dancers who target whoever has the highest charisma score in the party. Fortitude save against strength damage from the intense dancing, and anyone who touches you also has to make a will save or join in.

Yamasoth's Touch is a residue of a "the polymorph plague" and baleful polymorphs the target into a hairless weasel affected by a rage spell and attacking the nearest other creature.

Dark Archive

Those haunts sound really great, and they happen to be one of my favorite things in PF1! I can't wait to get my grubby, fiendish dwarven hands on another adventure written by Pett! Sadly, it will be a few more weeks until I do; I only recently got my copy of It came from the Hollow Mountain, but that's the price you have to pay for living in Finl... Cheliax! ;)

Dark Archive

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Anorak wrote:

Hmm overall this looks like a lot of fun. My only quibble is that the maps are lackluster.

Is it me or have the maps overall dropped in quality? It's something I've also noticed in the Starfinder AP books.

I thought the dungeon level maps looked really good in It came from the Hollow Mountain, although they were perhaps the shades/colors were a tad too dark for my taste.

However, I have to agree with you on the Roderick's Cove town map (why is there a grid on it?!?) and the weird "single-page-to-contain-them-all" type of overland/ship map (the ship map is useless and the overland map is too small to make out any details). It is even more peculiar that there is no overland map of the island itself; the silhouette of the Mountain in Dungeons of Golarion doesn't really help (I think it's actually somewhat contradictory to module's description of the island). It takes some work for the GM to "connect the dots" before running the module, but fortunately the adventure itself is fantastic.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Would someone being willing to describe the other four creatures?

Dark Archive

2 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Wannabe Demon Lord wrote:
Would someone being willing to describe the other four creatures?

Sure! They seemed to pick some very unnerving creatures (fits the month)!

Spoiler:

Ardoc Moilant - shovel-headed construct, powerfully built with large pinchers. Said pinchers can create sonic bursts and are rather hard.
Ashullian - four-armed, eyeless eel-like humanoid thst can manipulate the senses and create sonic bursts.
Kasthezi - emaciated creatures with eyeless sockets, long fingers, and a orbiting 'crown'. Has a few sonic attacks, even though it cant make a sound (bit of a pattern, here! ).
Siktempora, Misery - armless feminine torso, without a mouth, with empty eye sockets. Lower body is supported by six clawed limbs. Has abilities that involve, you guessed it, misery.


First time I’ve heard of haunts being put in the bestiary.


Thanks! Those all sound super interesting. Say what you will about Fiends being overpopulated, they do have so of the coolest and most unique creature designs fairly consistently. Are the Siktempora a new category of Outsider? One that embodies various emotions or something?

Dark Archive

2 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Wannabe Demon Lord wrote:
Are the Siktempora a new category of Outsider? One that embodies various emotions or something?

Sort of: while there isnt a subtype attatched to them in the statblock, a sidebar does give what they'd have as a group.

There are other ones for emotions, though the others are stated to desire to remain in tye dimension of Time.

Liberty's Edge

So, who's ruling Korvosa?

Liberty's Edge

2 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Paladinosaur wrote:
So, who's ruling Korvosa?

Cressida Kroft, or whomever your CC PCs put in charge.


Reckless wrote:
Paladinosaur wrote:
So, who's ruling Korvosa?
Cressida Kroft, or whomever your CC PCs put in charge.

A pleasant surprise. I kind of expected it'd be Neolandus. Not that he'd be a bad choice but Cressida's awesome.

Dark Archive

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

I have to say that I love all creatures in bestiary ._. Like "If these things take more than years to appear ever again in adventures or 2e I'll be depressed" awesome stuff

BTW, bit confused you listed haunts as part of bestiary considering they are just part of random encounter table :p Its not like this is first time random encounter table has traps or hazards or haunts


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

So I noticed an interesting tidbit in of the character writeups in the NP gallery.

Spoiler:
The writeup the Sorshen Simulacrum has an interesting comment on Nocticula rising from the Abyss. I know it's been hinted at here and there, does anybody think we'll get more info on that?

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Roleplaying Guild, Tales Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber
Squeakmaan wrote:

So I noticed an interesting tidbit in of the character writeups in the NP gallery.

** spoiler omitted **

Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh, Yeah.

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Didn't JJ pretty much confirm that this is the AP that will resolve Nocticula's ascension plotline?


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
CorvusMask wrote:
Didn't JJ pretty much confirm that this is the AP that will resolve Nocticula's ascension plotline?

Oh, I didn't know that. Very much looking forward to seeing where that goes.


3 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Well if you read the player's guide....

Spoiler:
Nocticula: Although the events of the Wrath of the Righteous Adventure Path don’t directly impact those of Return of the Runelords, certain events set in motion in that campaign continue to move forward in this one. In particular, rumors among certain scholastic circles suggest that the demon lord Nocticula, long the patron of assassins, darkness, and lust, has abandoned her planar realm of the Midnight Isles. For the time being, her clerics continue to retain access to their spells and powers, but a sect of heretics has been growing in power as well. Known as the Cult of the Redeemer Queen, these heretics claim that Nocticula is on the cusp of abandoning her demonic legacy and ascending as a true deity—a goddess of artists,midnight, and outcasts. With your GM’s approval, your character could be one of these heretics. For the time being, these worshipers are universally chaotic neutral in alignment. If you’re a heretical cleric of Nocticula, you are granted access to the domains of Artifice, Chaos, Darkness, Travel, and Void, and to the subdomains of Exploration, Isolation, Moon, Night, Revelry, and Whimsy. The symbol of the Cult of the Redeemer Queen is a moon with a pair of lips at its center and a seven pointed crown behind it, and the cult’s favored weapon is the dagger.

so already the fact we are getting this write up shows her transition.


Spoilers for the end of this adventure and possibly a few other Runelord details.

Spoiler:
Will we get stat blocks for the Runelords at their full power? Specifically Zutha and Xanderghul, since it feels like Belimarius, Sorshen, and Alaznist's stats will be relatively whole at the end of this adventure. I am sad to have only gotten a fragment of Zutha and not a full stat block as well for later use if events lead to his escape from the tome, if not at the very least stats for his Runelord weapon and unique ring set so I could homebrew more accurately with what we did see of his power. I'd be willing to believe Xanderghul would be a bit more fleshed out than Zutha, but it's sad to think he'll down a few power levels without comparison to his peak.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

2 people marked this as a favorite.
Angry Wizard wrote:

Spoilers for the end of this adventure and possibly a few other Runelord details.

Spoiler:
Will we get stat blocks for the Runelords at their full power? Specifically Zutha and Xanderghul, since it feels like Belimarius, Sorshen, and Alaznist's stats will be relatively whole at the end of this adventure. I am sad to have only gotten a fragment of Zutha and not a full stat block as well for later use if events lead to his escape from the tome, if not at the very least stats for his Runelord weapon and unique ring set so I could homebrew more accurately with what we did see of his power. I'd be willing to believe Xanderghul would be a bit more fleshed out than Zutha, but it's sad to think he'll down a few power levels without comparison to his peak.

Spoiler:
No, there won't be stat blocks for Zutha at "full power." The next adventure gives stats for a CR 17 version of Xanderghul, which while not at "full power" is still a pretty powerful foe. The 5th adventure will give stats for Belimarius at full power, and the 6th adventure will give stats for Sorshen and Alaznist at full power.

As scripted, the Adventure Path does not need full power stats for Zutha and Krune and Xanderghul—I made the specific choice in scripting the campaign that the PCs should be facing off against runelords many times, rather than clumping them all up in the last adventure. And since this story wraps up their tales, there's not really a compelling reason to go back and create "official" versions of Zutha and Xanderghul at the height of their power. (You can get Krune's stats from the PFS scenario, of course, and Karzoug's are in Rise of the Runelords.)

This does mean that if you want to homebrew the full-strength Xanderghul, or present stats for Zutha's rings or whatever, you don't have to worry that we'll be obsoleting your work by publishing the official ones.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

:(

Spoiler:
Fair and fine. Poor Zutha, one would think he'd be the next Runelord of Envy. The shadow set provided does provide excellent bases to build off of (conductive weapons for lich touch attack, genius), and if I were to add more mythic to Xanderghul it probably wouldn't be any further off-the-walls than a canon mythic version would have been. Not a bad thing of course :). Thanks for being open and clear on this.

Dark Archive

2 people marked this as a favorite.

@Anorak: Finally got my copy last monday, and I thought all the maps in the adventure were actually quite good. Then again, I can't remember if I've ever seen a boring map in a module designed by The Pett. This was a well-written adventure, although I have to say I still feel It came from the Hollow Mountain is so far the best of this bunch. In fact, it's probably the best dungeon crawl I've seen in years; IMO it's just oozing flavor, history and sense of wonder on every page. :)

Paizo Employee Creative Director

4 people marked this as a favorite.
Asgetrion wrote:
@Anorak: Finally got my copy last monday, and I thought all the maps in the adventure were actually quite good. Then again, I can't remember if I've ever seen a boring map in a module designed by The Pett. This was a well-written adventure, although I have to say I still feel It came from the Hollow Mountain is so far the best of this bunch. In fact, it's probably the best dungeon crawl I've seen in years; IMO it's just oozing flavor, history and sense of wonder on every page. :)

Heh, I'll take that compliment since I end up drawing most of the maps for Rich! (His map turnovers are more like outlines and suggestions...)

:P

Dark Archive

James Jacobs wrote:
Asgetrion wrote:
@Anorak: Finally got my copy last monday, and I thought all the maps in the adventure were actually quite good. Then again, I can't remember if I've ever seen a boring map in a module designed by The Pett. This was a well-written adventure, although I have to say I still feel It came from the Hollow Mountain is so far the best of this bunch. In fact, it's probably the best dungeon crawl I've seen in years; IMO it's just oozing flavor, history and sense of wonder on every page. :)

Heh, I'll take that compliment since I end up drawing most of the maps for Rich! (His map turnovers are more like outlines and suggestions...)

:P

Really? Then I'll tip my rusty old dwarven helmet to you, Sir, and acknowledge your talent as one of the best map-designers I've yet seen!

I've had the pleasure of playing under several excellent GMs who were also fantastically good at designing functional yet exciting maps; it didn't matter if we were exploring country inns, towers, mansions, temples or dungeons, I always felt excited to explore every nook and cranny to see what waited behind every door, and also how the maps would eventually look like (some of those maps I've later stolen for my own home games!).

A couple of them were also talented calligraphers and artists, which meant we players were also "spoiled" with lots of fantastic hand-outs. Decades of playing under such game masters honed my skills as well, or that's what I like to think, although there's still miles to go if I ever want to achieve that same level they've done (or perhaps that is simply raw natural talent?). I daily pray to Asmodeus to improve my skills, but sadly my Almighty Master has not yet seen me worthy enough of His Blessing! ;P

But, seriously, although I may not be a master mapmaker, I recognise that same talent in your maps, James. :)

Dark Archive

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

So in retrospect, really sad that Zutha doesn't have equipment listed or stats for his rings <_< Or even have rings in his pictures showing up

RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 8

DeciusNero wrote:
Wannabe Demon Lord wrote:
Would someone being willing to describe the other four creatures?

Sure! They seemed to pick some very unnerving creatures (fits the month)!

** spoiler omitted **

I had a lot of fun writing the Ardoc Moliant to give a whoopin on some players! ;)

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