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

3.10/5 (based on 8 ratings)
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

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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Average product rating:

3.10/5 (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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Silver Crusade

4 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Lost Omens, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Well I will be buying this one for sure, I've been waiting for more Alkenstar adventures for a long time.

Southern Garund next, please!


3 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber; Starfinder Superscriber

Well congrats Paizo, I didn't think you could get me to sub for Pathfinder AP's (Magic Schools and Absalom Cops aren't really my cup of tea) but between Frozen Flame and this you'll have my attention for the first six months of 2022.


CrusaderWolf wrote:

Well I will be buying this one for sure, I've been waiting for more Alkenstar adventures for a long time.

Southern Garund next, please!

And Arcadia soon, with luck! :p

But seriously, this is the first 1-10 to really make me sit up and pay attention.


2 people marked this as a favorite.

Oooh... Will we get rules for pyronite? Because I want rules for this fantasy dynamite (I'm assuming it's dynamite and not TNT). I want rules for this fantasy dynamite so bad.


I am looking forward to this.


With all three volumes announced, this 1-10 seems like an utter joy. Cannot wait to see them released!

Paizo Employee Marketing & Media Manager

11 people marked this as a favorite.

Back Cover:

Light the Fuse
Ragtag outlaws get their hands dirty in the oil-slicked alleyways and whisky-soaked saloons of Alkenstar, the City of Smog. To enact revenge on the mogul who ruined them, these renegades must steal from the rich, take down crooked shieldmarshals, and aid a mysterious gunslinging patron. In a city where the clockwork guards are literally as tough as brass, antiheroes will need true grit to dole out overdue justice. The Outlaws of Alkenstar Adventure Path begins with “Punks in a Powder Keg,” a complete adventure for 1st- to 3rd-level characters.


Nice

Scarab Sages

3 people marked this as a favorite.
Paizo Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Companion, PF Special Edition Subscriber; Starfinder Superscriber
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.

There's a lot of revenge in this AP, so I'd probably play a warpriest of Calistria who's keeping the team on task.

Paizo Employee Marketing & Media Manager

6 people marked this as a favorite.

Partial backmatter:

Barrel & Bullet Saloon by Stephanie Lundeen

Adventure Toolbox by Vanessa Hoskins

Player Rules

Powderkeg Paraphernalia
Alkenstar Agent Archetype
Black-Powder Feats
Alkenstar Services

Subscribe or preorder today!


1 person marked this as a favorite.

I'm very excited for this. Very hyped for the Player's Guide to come out!

Paizo Employee Marketing & Media Manager

4 people marked this as a favorite.
Aaron Shanks wrote:

Partial backmatter:

Barrel & Bullet Saloon by Stephanie Lundeen

Adventure Toolbox by Vanessa Hoskins

Player Rules

Powderkeg Paraphernalia
Alkenstar Agent Archetype
Black-Powder Feats
Alkenstar Services

Subscribe or preorder today!

Correction: Adventure Toolbox is by Matt Morris. We regret the error.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Onkonk wrote:
I'm very excited for this. Very hyped for the Player's Guide to come out!

The super specific Backgrounds we get in Player's Guides are one of my favorite bits of every Adventure Path. Eager to see what options we have here.

I'm also curious about that Alkenstar Agent archetype - do we know of anyone who serves Alkenstar other than the Shieldmarshals?

Paizo Employee Marketing & Media Manager

8 people marked this as a favorite.

We are a bit less than 30 days out from the Player's Guide. It is not final so I won't be sharing any spoilers from it yet. Preorder or subscribe!


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

I wonder what the damage for pyronite will end up bieng? any guesses

Grand Lodge Contributor

4 people marked this as a favorite.
belgrath9344 wrote:
I wonder what the damage for pyronite will end up bieng? any guesses

A million d6...

But this is probably a bad guess.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

That’s just ridiculous. No way it’s more than 800,000 d6.

Liberty's Edge

I keep reading kryptonite.


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

I mean, it IS technically kryptonite to those individuals who like all their bits to remain attached. So it fits.

And now I want something called Cryptonyte in-game that explodes in negative energy.

Scarab Sages

So if the Preorder of Book 1 is expected mid April 2022, when is it actually released?


Reebo Kesh wrote:
So if the Preorder of Book 1 is expected mid April 2022, when is it actually released?

Whenever the books hit the warehouse.


Reebo Kesh wrote:
So if the Preorder of Book 1 is expected mid April 2022, when is it actually released?

Below the description you can see "Product Availability" where it says it is expected to be released 27th of April.

Scarab Sages

Onkonk wrote:
Reebo Kesh wrote:
So if the Preorder of Book 1 is expected mid April 2022, when is it actually released?
Below the description you can see "Product Availability" where it says it is expected to be released 27th of April.

So on 27th April I can click, buy the PDF and download it. Sweet!

Liberty's Edge

3 people marked this as a favorite.

If the deities of international logistics smile on us, yes.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps Subscriber

Stoked for this AP!


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

Do we have an ETA on the player’s guide? I’m stoked to see some more info on Alkenstar itself, the campaign backgrounds, and especially how magic is going to function in the region.

Paizo Employee Marketing & Media Manager

5 people marked this as a favorite.
willfromamerica wrote:
Do we have an ETA on the player’s guide? I’m stoked to see some more info on Alkenstar itself, the campaign backgrounds, and especially how magic is going to function in the region.

It will be posted by the end of this month.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Eager to see it!


4 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

According to Paizo twitter, players guide is out on Monday, Feb 28th!

Silver Crusade

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Oh cool it came out last month? :3


I saw the cover for the first book in the newsletter by mail, looks really cool!


Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Subparhiggins wrote:
According to Paizo twitter, players guide is out on Monday, Feb 28th!

I think you mean March?


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

Could today be the day the players guide appears..fingers crossed in the next few hours :-)


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I’ve been refreshing all morning!


Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path Subscriber

It's here!!


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Where?!

Grand Lodge Contributor

9 people marked this as a favorite.

SLAMS DOWN THE LINK LIKE A YU-GI-Oh CARD

Paizo Employee Marketing & Media Manager

5 people marked this as a favorite.

MAGIC IN ALKENSTAR SPOILER:

The so-called City of Smog lies in the heart of the Mana Wastes, a fickle wasteland desert where magic doesn’t always function as planned. In Outlaws of Alkenstar, the unpredictable nature of magic is presented during several set encounters—particularly in the Mana Wastes in the second and third volumes—and characters are made aware in advance whenever such circumstances might arise. For the most part, however, magic works normally in nearly every encounter. If you and your group are interested in making unreliable magic a larger part of your campaign, consider using the rules for wellspring magic (Pathfinder Secrets of Magic 248) or leaning into the concepts of Bronzetime and Surgetime while in Alkenstar (sidebar on page 51).


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

How do I preorder this Foundry? Aaron Shanks take my money!!!

Paizo Employee Marketing & Media Manager

1 person marked this as a favorite.
trevco613 wrote:
How do I preorder this Foundry? Aaron Shanks take my money!!!

Haha, thanks! We are getting the Foundry version of product on the site #soon. I understand it will be a separate page. I think we will put a button link to it from this page.

Paizo Employee Marketing & Media Manager

Rolll20 VTT does not plan to have this product available at release at this time.


Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path Subscriber

Oooooh that cover art

Silver Crusade

5 people marked this as a favorite.

I foresee time traveling locomotives now


3 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Companion, Maps, Pathfinder Accessories, Pawns, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Rysky wrote:
I foresee time traveling locomotives now

Only if they can get to 88 mph...


4 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path Subscriber
Feros wrote:
Rysky wrote:
I foresee time traveling locomotives now
Only if they can get to 88 mph...

Watch out for spellstorms though; you don't wanna get struck by lightning..


3 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Calcryx666 wrote:
Feros wrote:
Rysky wrote:
I foresee time traveling locomotives now
Only if they can get to 88 mph...
Watch out for spellstorms though; you don't wanna get struck by lightning..

Great Scott! The Pyronite is unstable!!!


6 people marked this as a favorite.

Doc: Marty that pyronite has the potential to produce 1.21 jigawatts of power. You know what that means Marty!!!!!
Marty: That sounds dangerous doc. Where did you get it from?
Doc: It feel off the wagon of a Gebbite.

Doc: Marty we have to go back to the past
Marty: What happened?
Doc: The whispering way had succeeded at their attempt to help Tar Baphon. Humanity is doomed if we don't find a way to stop them. Doomed!

Marty: Time travel this. Time travel that. Doc why do you know so much stuff about time travel?
Doc: You see its simple. Do you know about Shyka?
Marty: I don't see how they are relevant.
Doc: No its everything Marty!!!!!!! Im an avatar of Shyka. Past present future. I've seen it all Marty. I've seen it all!!!!!!


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Friggin Roll20....... SIGH, will have to do it by scratch again, Have foundry but not a big fan of it myself.

Tom


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

Woo!! Order complete and shipped!!

But.. uhhh.. anyone else not seeing this in their downloads?


Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

I got the shipping notification as well, but it’s listed at the bottom of the downloads page as “not currently available for download”. Curious if it’s a known issue, or if maybe a switch didn’t get flipped for release?

Hopefully someone can give us some insight soon, as I’m eager to dive in!

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