Pathfinder Adventure Path #178: Punks in a Powderkeg (Outlaws of Alkenstar 1 of 3)

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Pathfinder Adventure Path #178: Punks in a Powderkeg (Outlaws of Alkenstar 1 of 3)
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A ragtag band of gunslinging outlaws get their hands dirty in the greasy alleyways and whisky-soaked saloons of Alkenstar, the City of Smog. To get revenge on the mogul who destroyed them, the renegades will have to stick up an illicit bank, foil a crooked shieldmarshal, and escort a reclusive inventor to safety. All the while, countless rough-and-tumble rivals aim to waylay the party and seize the inventor's latest concoction: pyronite, an explosive substance with the potential to change the face of the world. In a city where the clockwork guards are literally as tough as brass, the antiheroes will need true grit to dole out overdue justice.

"Punks in a Powderkeg" is a Pathfinder adventure for four 1st-level characters. This adventure begins the Outlaws of Alkenstar Adventure Path, a three-part monthly campaign in which a band of outlaws unravel an explosive criminal plot in the heart of the City of Smog, Alkenstar. This adventure also includes a gazetteer of the characters' home saloon; new feats, items, and rules options perfect for gunslingers, gearheads, and grenadiers; and new steampunk creatures and mutant monsters to befriend or bedevil your players.

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-13: 978-1-64078-412-3

The Outlaws of Alkenstar Adventure Path is sanctioned for use in Pathfinder Society Organized Play. The rules for running this Adventure and Chronicle Sheets are available as a free download (963 KB PDF).

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

Fantasy Grounds Virtual Tabletop
Foundry Virtual Tabletop
Pathfinder Nexus on Demiplane
Archives of Nethys

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

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3.00/5 (based on 8 ratings)

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What could have been

3/5

I really wanted this to be a great first adventure into a great three book AP and I find myself disappointed. Overall, it just has some rough edges that make this just an average AP from Paizo.

First, the good. The character hooks, backgrounds, setting, and initial NPCs are all excellent. My players were hooked, had deep connections to the city (which is essentially an NPC unto itself), and really enjoyed the start of the game. The first half of the first chapter is possibly one of the best opening scenes Paizo has had in an AP. That is where the problems start.

After the initial heist, the players are being chased and suddenly have time to do some side quests for goblins? It would have made a lot more sense to drop off the loot and then have an excuse to come back. Then, in chapter 2, you have to go rescue the eccentric inventor, who is a treat to roleplay. However, the entire chapter has weird pacing issues and most of the encounters feel like filler more than meaningful contributions to the story. The final main chapter of the book has what is essentially a raid on a rival group which is fine but also doesn't meaningfully contribute to the whole "revenge" or "work for the government" themes that the AP lays out in its first chapter.

These problems aren't game breaking and there is still a lot of fun to be had here but this could have easily been a 4 or 5 star first book.


3/5

I was excited to run this as soon as it was announced, but it's been a bit disappointing so far.
The Good:
- Great hook. The best way to unite a group of chaotic PCs is revenge, which is conveniently a mainstay of the western genre.
- Fun NPCs. The main villains are fun and compelling (even if they barely show up in this one) and there's other fun stuff like the Nailgobblers in the meantime. I recommend showing your players a pic of Ambrose Mugland from the cover of book 2 to make them hate him more.
The Bad:
- The Mana Wastes' strange and unpredictable effect on magic is one of the most notable parts of the setting, and it's weird that they're barely mentioned. I just told my casters they would have wellspring magic as a free archetype and called it a day, but I was really hoping for some explicit rules.
- Why would you tell me to give my players a map of the city then have them traverse an "unavoidable" bridge over a river that literally can't exist? I just pasted some rooftops over the (impossible) river and told my players they were jumped in an alley instead.


More Steampuff than Steampunk

2/5

Kinda' dull and without purpose, which is just weird, considering how interesting/novel it could/should have been.
Party escort Mr McGuffin across city, then find out doing so was pointless.
Does a good job of setting up the villains for AP.
Alkenstar is a really cool and unique setting, but the adventure itself felt aggressively bland.
This book alone does not excite me to run this AP.


Creative but sloppy

3/5

Full disclosure: I've yet to run this, so I might change my rating/review once I've gotten into it a bit. This is based on a thorough read of chapter 1, a session 0, plus a healthy skim of chapters 2 and 3.

There's a lot to love about OoA so far and I'm incredibly excited to run it; I think it's got a very fun set-up and takes you through a variety of exciting and wild scenarios. However, if I were to sum up my gripes in a word, I'd say: sloppy.

There's almost no elaboration on the city itself (as in, some entire districts have maybe a sentence worth of description across the text, and you're completely stranded the moment a player asks to go off the trail of the encounters), and for an AP placing the characters in the roles of lawbreakers, it sure would be nice if there was even a paragraph dedicated to suggesting what might happen if they get caught. Mana storms are entirely handwaved as a concept.

Some encounters fall into tired tropes that I thought Paizo was over (I'm looking at you, tribe of murder gnolls whose entire existence is dedicated to murdering for fun) while others are oddly cartoony. There's a whole chunk of a scenario in chapter 2 involving a bridge that makes no physical or logical sense whatsoever. There's a part in chapter 1 where it asks you to give characters a condition that only exists in 1e if they do something stupid.

At the end of the day, none of this is unfixable, but in my opinion a pre-written adventure should do more than this does to minimise the homework the GM has to do to run it. Again, though, I still love it conceptually and I'll make sure to amend my review if anything changes in how I feel about it.


A promising start!

4/5

Upfront: I'm a big fan of Westerns, fantasy, and fantasy-Westerns. So I'm an easy mark for this kind of thing.
That said, I'm really impressed with this AP so far! The new monsters are flavorful and mechanically interesting, the encounters and events are all varied with multiple approaches and reactivity, and the NPCs/locations all do a good job of selling how unique the setting is.
Unfortunately this book sidesteps some aspects of the setting I would have liked to see better fleshed-out, mainly Mana Storms. The module gives minimal advice for how to run that phenomena and instead says it'll come up in certain events in later books, so anyone looking for rules and mechanics on that front will be disappointed. I'm also personally a little worried about how this AP will handle time -- the events of this book seem to take place over the course of a bout a week, which is apparently enough to get the party to level 4? I understand wanting to keep some time pressure, but I wish these APs did a little more to build in some downtime options.

But despite that, I can't deny just how much fun this book is. I'm hoping Outlaws of Alkenstar continues this level of quality and becomes one of those CLASSIC APs folks talk about. So far, it's got the potential for it.


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Paizo Employee Webstore Coordinator

1 person marked this as a favorite.

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


7 people marked this as a favorite.

I can’t imagine this was supposed to be announced like this, but I do feel vindicated in pitching/predicting an Alkenstar low-level 3-parter.


4 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

I am punching the air with glee right now. This has everything: clockwork guards, gunslinging anti-heroes, organized crime. This was made for me.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Pathfinder Accessories, Pawns, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Heck yes!


Hmm... I figured we would get some kind of adventure in this region. Looks pretty cool.

Liberty's Edge

7 people marked this as a favorite.

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA

(breath)

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA AAAAAAAAAAAA

Paizo Employee Marketing & Media Manager

12 people marked this as a favorite.
keftiu wrote:
I can’t imagine this was supposed to be announced like this, but I do feel vindicated in pitching/predicting an Alkenstar low-level 3-parter.

All is well. Given the retail and distribution cycle, these products needed to go live. Gen Con in mid-September is an anomaly. ;)


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Aaron Shanks wrote:
keftiu wrote:
I can’t imagine this was supposed to be announced like this, but I do feel vindicated in pitching/predicting an Alkenstar low-level 3-parter.
All is well. Given the retail and distribution cycle, these products needed to go live. Gen Con in mid-September is an anomaly. ;)

I get the feeling we will all find the announcements and panels at gencon just as exciting anyway haha


Absolutely serene right now. Wow.

Paizo Employee Marketing & Media Manager

6 people marked this as a favorite.
silversarcasm wrote:
Aaron Shanks wrote:
keftiu wrote:
I can’t imagine this was supposed to be announced like this, but I do feel vindicated in pitching/predicting an Alkenstar low-level 3-parter.
All is well. Given the retail and distribution cycle, these products needed to go live. Gen Con in mid-September is an anomaly. ;)
I get the feeling we will all find the announcements and panels at gencon just as exciting anyway haha

Right?! I'm sure Erik Mona's Keynote will still be worth watching. :)


I forget; is Alkenstar in a dead magic zone? It’s very fun if we get a “no casters” AP so soon after Strength of Thousands.

Liberty's Edge

3 people marked this as a favorite.
keftiu wrote:
I forget; is Alkenstar in a dead magic zone? It’s very fun if we get a “no casters” AP so soon after Strength of Thousands.

It's more a randomly-no-magic zone. Like, for instance, in Alkenstar itself, one side of the river has magic and the other side doesn't.


2 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

*Rapidly vibrating with excitement*


Can this be out already?? I want to play it!


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Oh heck yes! I've been waiting for some Impossible Lands content!! This sounds great.


2 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

Excuse me? We get a saloon? Sold.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Curious about the no magic part. Are casters going to be a bad idea to bring to this one? Are runes going to not work sometimes?


3 people marked this as a favorite.
Gaulin wrote:
Curious about the no magic part. Are casters going to be a bad idea to bring to this one? Are runes going to not work sometimes?

Could be “no casters + Automatic Bonus Progression,” if they really wanna hammer that home?


Not what I expected to come out, but damn if it doesn't look tasty :D


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

im so excited for this!!!


1 person marked this as a favorite.

I'm getting Blades in the Dark vibes from this! Can't wait!


2 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

A clockpunk western? I'm in!

Dark Archive

6 people marked this as a favorite.

Okay yeah, best thing about 3 part aps is that paizo is more willing to set them in niche locations (either ones where its hard to figure out level 1-20 plot or ones players might not want to be that long in depending on party), so this being set in Alkenstar is enough to set aside my upset at this not being another 11-20 :'D

Woo for Alkenstar content finally! :3


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
CorvusMask wrote:

Okay yeah, best thing about 3 part aps is that paizo is more willing to set them in niche locations (either ones where its hard to figure out level 1-20 plot or ones players might not want to be that long in depending on party), so this being set in Alkenstar is enough to set aside my upset at this not being another 11-20 :'D

Woo for Alkenstar content finally! :3

Honestly? Same. I'm very surprised that we're getting back-to-back 1-10s, but an Alkenstar-centric AP lends itself to that level of play (a general MW AP could do 1-20 easily, but Alkenstar alone is more 1-10 unless some huge changes are being made within the story). Also, it's very distinct from both of the preceding APs, which is a plus.


7 people marked this as a favorite.
The Painted Oryx wrote:
I'm getting Blades in the Dark vibes from this! Can't wait!

Was waiting for someone else to say it first! Though /this/ does let me play a Cleric of Brigh as the well-meaning soul of a band of outlaws.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Maps, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

So cool! Alkenstar is fascinating, I'm glad we're getting an AP set there!


I am glad this is low level ap.


3 people marked this as a favorite.

Part of me does hope one of the volumes has a jaunt out into the Wastes - I'd really love to see some Fleshwarps in the narrative!


oh hell yeah steampunk esc western? sign me up!

Grand Lodge

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

Nice!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Wayfinders

2 people marked this as a favorite.
keftiu wrote:
Part of me does hope one of the volumes has a jaunt out into the Wastes - I'd really love to see some Fleshwarps in the narrative!

I sort of expect this in volumes 2 and 3 - maybe even a visit to Dongun Keep, the Gunworks and/or Martel (which apparently houses the Alkenstar treasury and banking)? That'd be fun.


2 people marked this as a favorite.

Just reading the description and I am already grinning like an idiot. I can't wait to play and/or run this.

Liberty's Edge

1 person marked this as a favorite.

A real 180 from the prehistoric Mammoth Lords to the western and clockwork of Alkenstar. Something for everyone.

This reminds me fondly of my Deadlands adventures.

Paizo Employee Contributor

2 people marked this as a favorite.
keftiu wrote:
The Painted Oryx wrote:
I'm getting Blades in the Dark vibes from this! Can't wait!
Was waiting for someone else to say it first! Though /this/ does let me play a Cleric of Brigh as the well-meaning soul of a band of outlaws.

Yes! Love some Brigh... obviously (stares at profile pic)

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber

OMG can it be today instead? Lol.


Pathfinder Maps, Pathfinder Accessories, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

April? are we taking a three month break from AP releases?


2 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Thrawn82 wrote:
April? are we taking a three month break from AP releases?

No, Jan-Feb-March is going to have the Quest for the Frozen Flame 3-part adventure path releasing.


suprised that this isnt an 11-20, and instead we're getting two 1-10s in a row, but I'm certainly not disappointed. This is very exciting, although I also hope we get to get out of the city a little bit as well.

Liberty's Edge

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

I really like the idea of 3 part APs and would like to see the trend of 3 part 3 part 6 part continue, getting 3APs a year with loads of options.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

Also, potential "Way of the Outlaw" or "Way of the Maverick" for the Gunslinger here? That seems like it would be fun and fitting.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

I am really torn on this. On the one hand, I am very glad to see interesting locations like this and the Realm of the Mammoth Lords get coverage. On the other, 1-10 is a very hard sell indeed for any of my plausible player groups, and 11-20 is basically impossible unless it can be made to flow organically from an existing 1-10; the equivalent reasonably doable with the first two Starfinder 3-part APs but I am not seeing a straightforward way to do that from any of the PF2.0 1-10 3-parters so far into Fists of the Ruby Phoenix. If we are going to have 3-part APs becoming a more common thing, some focus on stringing them together for 1-20 play would be appreciated.


WANT!

NOW!!


3 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Companion, Maps, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

So I guess that means we now have three short adventure paths that can serve as prequels to that Ruby Phoenix adventure path that starts at 11th level?


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

Grenadiers?! I have 1 (one) need.

Grand Lodge

5 people marked this as a favorite.

My house is already lining up to do a 'Firefly' themed PC team for this AP...


Looks pretty cool


TBH, I like the 11-20 portion of the 3-part APs more than the 1-10 ones, but this looks cool and low level is appropriate for Alkenstar.

Acquisitives

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

very nice. I think in a year and a half when we are done with Tyrant's Grasp, it'll be put on the list of options...


5 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
Yakman wrote:
very nice. I think in a year and a half when we are done with Tyrant's Grasp, it'll be put on the list of options...

Read this as Tyrannosaurus Wrath for some reason, and now want an AP strictly about dinosaurs and their yet to be included magical fort.


Pathfinder Card Game, Companion Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Charter Superscriber

This looks awesome!

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