Pathfinder Adventure Path #161: Belly of the Black Whale (Agents of Edgewatch 5 of 6)

3.70/5 (based on 3 ratings)
Pathfinder Adventure Path #161: Belly of the Black Whale (Agents of Edgewatch 5 of 6)
Show Description For:
Non-Mint

Add Print Edition $24.99

Add PDF $19.99

Add Non-Mint $24.99 $18.74

Facebook Twitter Email

The Agents of Edgewatch Adventure Path continues! Having been betrayed by their confidants and stripped of their badges, the Edgewatch agents must perform a daring prison break to spring the wrongly incarcerated primarch. Old enemies become new friends as the heroes work for an infamous underworld crime lord in order to prove their fealty and receive blueprints to the enchanted prison galley known as the Black Whale. Once they've rescued their key ally, the heroes must find a way to clear their sullied names and, in the process, exact justice upon the treacherous business mogul who betrayed them in the first place.

"Belly of the Black Whale" is a Pathfinder adventure for four 15th-level characters. This adventure continues the Agents of Edgewatch Adventure Path, a six-part monthly campaign in which players take on the role of city watchdogs and dole out justice to Absalom's most nefarious criminal elements. This volume also includes new rules and exciting lore regarding Absalom's notorious prisons, the slithering snake goddess Ravithra, and a throng of new monsters and villains for urban fantasy campaigns.

Each monthly full-color softcover Pathfinder Adventure Path volume contains an in-depth adventure scenario, stats for several new monsters, and support articles meant to give Game Masters additional material to expand their campaign. Pathfinder Adventure Path volumes use the Open Game License and work with both the Pathfinder RPG and the world's oldest fantasy RPG.

ISBN: 978-1-64078-287-7

Other Resources: This product is also available on the following platforms:

Hero Lab Online
Fantasy Grounds Virtual Tabletop
Roll20 Virtual Tabletop
Archives of Nethys

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

Product Availability

Print Edition:

Available now

Ships from our warehouse in 11 to 20 business days.

PDF:

Fulfilled immediately.

Non-Mint:

Available now

Ships from our warehouse in 11 to 20 business days.

This product is non-mint. Refunds are not available for non-mint products. The standard version of this product can be found here.

Are there errors or omissions in this product information? Got corrections? Let us know at store@paizo.com.

PZO90161


See Also:

Average product rating:

3.70/5 (based on 3 ratings)

Sign in to create or edit a product review.

Off piste

3/5

This book felt very off-piste compared to the promised themes and as a player was very frustrating as it forced my characters to make decisions they would not have made in any circumstance to get through it.

The ending of this book very much felt like it should be the end of the whole AP due to the previous foreshadowing.

The reason I have chosen to give it 3 stars not 4 is the well-written thematic dungeon towards the end (I would prefer not to play the first parts of the book).


Fantastic!

5/5

Book 4 was already pretty good but this book alone makes running this AP worth it. There's tension in every chapter, the story is great and even the main villain can't be defeated by using brute force.


Evil acts and unnecessary twists, with few rewards and no real consequences

3/5

The first two parts of the adventure expect, or require, the PCs to perform multiple clearly evil acts. For an AP where the PCs are stood up as famously virtuous public servants (or at least mildly corrupt public servants generally doing good in the end), forcing them down an evil path is a hard swerve that should have serious consequences.

For instance, it's an opportunity for some meaty and complex situations for players to navigate, not just in the plot but also how far they're willing to go against the grain of their characters' development, and how (or if) the PCs come back from that. Or, it's a chance to seriously interrogate the PCs' work as police by making them criminals, facing consequences for their actions and mistakes, and seeing first-hand the brutality that the criminals they've arrested face in Absalom's prisons.

Instead, at each juncture it takes a strangely consequence-free middle ground that's neither all that dynamic nor meaningful, then...

Spoiler:
... punches an utterly unearned reset button going into the third act that forgives, no questions asked, any heinous stuff the PCs likely did or enabled in the first two acts, like setting up the undercover agent who got them in front of the crime lord to be assassinated (and hand-delivering the kill order!), or aiding or releasing a fascist mass-murderer so she can... lend the PCs some gear? (Why does she have magic gear?? She's under arrest on a prison barge?????)

--

It's all a particular bummer because the elements of a cool adventure are all here — the set up looks like an undercover heist and prison break, in order to confront a villain with a reputation as a socially invulnerable (but otherwise mundane) manipulator. However, at each juncture the adventure throws in a left-field twist seemingly just for the sake of doing it, and the result is unrewarding.

Spoiler:
--

The crime lord cooperation is just in pursuit of a MacGuffin; there's no grand plan to break into or out of prison, it's mostly just "cast ''get out of jail ritual''". The prison break winds up being a dungeon crawl with a brute-force ending that defies any attempts at subtlety. Afterward, being on the run as fugitives is just a few skill checks against amnesiac witnesses in order to set up a combat encounter, the result of which automatically clears the PCs' names and gets them back on the force, with no questions asked.

All of that is in service of a final act that looks like it'll be an engaging social/roleplaying reckoning for the PCs and their role in Absalom up to this point, and against a compelling foe who should be able to use their evil actions from the first two acts to manipulate them into considering staying outside of the law — like telling them the first-act crime lord had the right idea to foster order by building power outside the broken legal systems, but he clearly wasn't as well equipped or right-minded as the PCs to pull it off.

But it instead just winds up throwing one left-field twist after another (Reginald is literally made of the ink of an enslaved kraken??? His head writer is a devil with eight prosthetic pen limbs so it can libel faster??????) that sets up a series of underwhelming demon/devil/clockwork combat encounters and boss fight.

The most distressing part is the chance that players will find out during the prison break that the first act wasn't even necessary — a second person knows the ritual required to escape, they're already inside the prison, they're good-aligned, and they're explicitly amiable to working with the PCs. So not only is the first-act crime lord a frustrating mess to deal with as both a GM and player, he's also ultimately redundant to the plot. The AP doesn't seem to acknowledge this, but the PCs almost certainly will if they investigate like the previous four issues have trained them to do.

In other words, the PCs commit evil acts for nothing, will almost certainly find out that it wasn't necessary, and end up getting away with commiting evil acts by being above the law. If the PCs don't reckon with this themselves (and do so entirely unprompted by the AP), and they're lawful or good, they need to move a step toward both chaos and evil if they finish the adventure as written. Not ideal!

--

Like any published adventure, I can (and you should) replace what's frustrating in order to suit a table. The opening chapter of this adventure seems to know this is necessary, because it openly encourages replacing major plot points in service of making it more fun and suggests some ways to do it, though it presents only about a paragraph's worth of alternatives.

But then why buy it? It'll take about as much prep to rewrite two-thirds of this adventure to meet a minimum requirement of having more difficult but not inherently evil options, as it would to build an adventure from scratch.

The prisons of the Inner Sea article has some good hooks, but goes for quantity over depth. It's nice to have a bestiary with aquatic creatures that don't have Elder God/aboleth baggage, but the lusca is the only truly necessary creature (and it had already been statted for 1E). The Ravithra article is informative, but in the context of the adventure, it's filler — if she's mentioned in it, I missed it in two readthroughs.

It's tough to recommend this issue as a result.


Paizo Employee Webstore Coordinator

Announced for November! Product image and description are not final and may be subject to change.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Oooooh sounds like we may have some Naga in the AP, with that info on Ravithra... Also anything more on Vudrani deities is welcome!


The slithering snake goddess Ravithra? Hmm... color me intrigued.


Wait, the "wrongly incarcerated primarch"? So here's where Lord Gyr has been all this time?


3 people marked this as a favorite.
The Gold Sovereign wrote:
Wait, the "wrongly incarcerated primarch"? So here's where Lord Gyr has been all this time?

It's funny how, when hearing the word "primarch", my brain automatically goes to the 41st Millennium and Warhammer 40,000. "So this is where Leman Russ has been all this time?!"


This keeps getting better. I keep finding these new volumes and waiting for the other shoe to drop and it doesn't. This sounds so cool! Can it be November yet??

Sovereign Court

This sounds awesome!

Dark Archive

Valantrix1 wrote:
The slithering snake goddess Ravithra? Hmm... color me intrigued.

Apparently Vudrani goddess of snakes


I wonder if Lord Gyr is going to be among the legends in this month's release, Lost Omens Legends. And also, is the primarch mentioned here really Lord Gyr? Or is it the acting primarch.

Dark Archive

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

Yay, snake deity!

The Gold Sovereign wrote:
I wonder if Lord Gyr is going to be among the legends in this month's release, Lost Omens Legends. And also, is the primarch mentioned here really Lord Gyr? Or is it the acting primarch.

The acting.

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Ooh, a lusca on the cover!

Silver Crusade

2 people marked this as a favorite.

Those things really freak me out, not gonna lie.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Maps, Starfinder Maps Subscriber

I'm wondering if this chapter is going to break from AP norms and use a flip mat, namely the new flip mat Bigger Pirate Ship. I cannot wait!

Contributor

Love that cover art!

Dark Archive

2 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Rysky wrote:
Those things really freak me out, not gonna lie.

Cranky pan-Caribbean shark-octopi? Don't blame ya!

Also blue holes are kind of unnerving. >.>

Sovereign Court

Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Pathfinder Accessories, Pawns, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

What an amazing cover


2 people marked this as a favorite.

Okay I haven't read the whole book yet but I just wanted to say that I LOVE the article on Ravithra! It really read like a real world myth. She seems like a very cool and complex deity, not just goddess of nagas. Great work


2 people marked this as a favorite.

Can anyone share what's in the toolbox this month? I am really eager to get some new player stuff and monsters.

Dark Archive

2 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
GGSigmar wrote:
Can anyone share what's in the toolbox this month? I am really eager to get some new player stuff and monsters.

I can do the beasties!:

Clockwork amalgam: clockwork construct made up of various parts and magic. Has quite a few attack options, and can become a viscous slice 'n dice with those same weapons.

Water Elemental - Vessel: elemental bound and empowered by magic. Can toss some spells, and get boosted by mages.

Lusca: Can create abnormal weather and viscous bites aplenty.
Blue holes are mentioned :3

Minchgorm: fey that can control water and swallow quickly. Illustration is terrifying.

Myrucarx: shadow realm visitors that employ illusions to lure prey.

Obrousian: undead merfolk that manipulates and lures it's victims (this seems to be a theme for the monsters in this one!).

Zealborn: mortals who chose to become undead for noble intentions. It does not go well.


This cover art is so phenomenal!


Paizo Superscriber; Pathfinder Companion, LO Special Edition, Pathfinder Accessories, PF Special Edition Subscriber; Starfinder Superscriber

Who's that on the cover, and what is that staff she's holding?

Dark Archive

1 person marked this as a favorite.

If I had to take an educated guess, I believe the cover character is..

spoiler! You were warned!:
Absalom's Town Planner, Olansa Terimor. Why is she on the cover? I won't say. You'll have to read or play it and find out!

Dark Archive

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

Really enjoyed the idea and layout of the prison, though I have one minor quibble...

Spoiler:
The chapter states that only the very worst can end up here, and the villains that heroes have encountered thus far wouldn't end up here. I'm sorry, but With the exclusion of one of the prisoners shown* (Mimnurath, maybe Amata), none of them rank with fantasy H.H. Holmes from the first part of the campaign.

*yes, I know it's a brief list to flesh out the prison, but still.


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
DeciusNero wrote:

Really enjoyed the idea and layout of the prison, though I have one minor quibble...

** spoiler omitted **

To me, it seems more like

Spoiler:
the Black Whale is more designed for political prisoners than criminal ones. So while the psychopathic killers in the first couple of books are real bad, they didn't try to actively topple the government. Or perhaps it's not the crime itself but the power and capabilities of the prisoner--as in, they're not locked here because their crimes were so heinous but because they could easily escape a normal prison. Maybe? Definitely worth playing up at your table.
Dark Archive

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Sporkedup wrote:
DeciusNero wrote:

Really enjoyed the idea and layout of the prison, though I have one minor quibble...

** spoiler omitted **

To me, it seems more like ** spoiler omitted **

Good point.

Dark Archive

1 person marked this as a favorite.
DeciusNero wrote:
Ooh, a lusca on the cover!

Ooh, sharktopus! The rare multi-headed kind! (Hopefully not a Lernean sharktopus!)

And another fine beastie in the glorious tradition of the owlbear, griffon, chimera, etc. mashing multiple mundane critters together. :)

Community / Forums / Paizo / Product Discussion / Pathfinder Adventure Path #161: Belly of the Black Whale (Agents of Edgewatch 5 of 6) All Messageboards

Want to post a reply? Sign in.