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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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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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
Sycamore Throne wrote:

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!

Seems to have sorted itself out. :D

Omg. Page 56 is 100% Dr. Eggman. XD

EDIT: Aww man. They really put the cart before the horse on page 82.


Pathfinder Companion, Maps, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

I think I really lucked out here. By the time I got my shipping notice today, that PDF issue had cleared up, and I wouldn't have known about it all except for reading these forums.


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

do they give pyronite stats in book 1?


Pathfinder Companion, Maps, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
belgrath9344 wrote:
do they give pyronite stats in book 1?

The PDF contains 69 references to pyronite, with many of them being references to the formula for pyronite.

Spoiler:
Sadly, the formula itself is never given in this book, nor are any game stats.


Any cool things in the toolbox for inventors?


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

Not in here.

There are:
some alchemical items, a Feat Alchemist (plus Barbarians and Fighters) can take, 2 more Feats that Fighters and Barbarians can take, and three Stance Feats which are strangely only for the Martial Artist Archetype, as well as the new Alkenstar Agent Archetype.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I've subscribed today and am excitedly waiting for the order to no longer be pending. I take it I won't be able to download until the book ships?

Paizo Employee Marketing & Media Manager

1 person marked this as a favorite.
SilentClarity wrote:
I've subscribed today and am excitedly waiting for the order to no longer be pending. I take it I won't be able to download until the book ships?

Welcome! Correct, the PDF is sent when your product ships.

Paizo Employee Marketing & Media Manager

2 people marked this as a favorite.

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

Grand Lodge

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Trying to make sense of the map on page 18. From references in the text it seems the scale is off. I think it’s a 10’ squares map. Anyone else?

(The range of the thing at B3 and the given size of the thing at B5 in particular make me think this)

Grand Lodge

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

And can someone explain this?

Chapter 2 spoilers:
The party has to go from Gattlebee’s house to the brewery (per the text, near Ironside) to the saloon. All of these are on one side of the river. Yet the action centers on a bridge they “must” cross on the route. This is bugging me because it says to give the map to the players so they can plan but if I do so they will simply think I’m racy when I say they have to cross at The Bottleneck (or anywhere else). Hoping someone has a better answer.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
jmspencer wrote:

And can someone explain this?

** spoiler omitted **

These questions are probably best suited for the specific AP subforum.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
jmspencer wrote:

And can someone explain this?

** spoiler omitted **

I've asked the very same in the AP-specific subforum.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Aaron Shanks wrote:
SilentClarity wrote:
I've subscribed today and am excitedly waiting for the order to no longer be pending. I take it I won't be able to download until the book ships?
Welcome! Correct, the PDF is sent when your product ships.

I can't focus on anything other than checking to see if it's shipped yet. I live 20 miles from Paizo HQ, can't I just come pick it up?


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

Punting on Bronzetime/Surgetime seems like a mistake.

For those of you still on the fence about this AP, the actual text itself simply says "If you're interested in enforcing the unpredictable nature of magic in the mana wastes, consult the rules about wellspring magic in Secrets of Magic".

Okay. I didn't need an AP for that. Kind of brought down my interest.

Wayfinders

7 people marked this as a favorite.

For what it's worth, LO Impossible Lands was accidentally revealed to have more thorough rules for this. (Something I can hopefully say out loud now.)

Shame they're not reprinted here, but presumably those rules might still be in development and/or there wasn't space to put them in here, depending on how detailed they are.

Dark Archive

3 people marked this as a favorite.

Hmm yeah I do agree that after how setting has previously emphasized about how magic doesn't work reliably in Mana Wastes that having AP that is like "but you can still play mage when weather is good!" is bit lame

Paizo Employee Marketing & Media Manager

7 people marked this as a favorite.

For more on Punks in a Powder Keg watch an interview with author Vanessa Hoskins from The Gallant Goblin.

Grand Lodge

Will this AP contain VTT?

Paizo Employee Marketing & Media Manager

2 people marked this as a favorite.
fingerzz wrote:
Will this AP contain VTT?

Foundry VTT will have It available next Wednesday for purchase here on Paizo.com. There is no product page yet.

Grand Lodge

Aaron Shanks wrote:
fingerzz wrote:
Will this AP contain VTT?
Foundry VTT will have It available next Wednesday for purchase here on Paizo.com. There is no product page yet.

If I understand correctly if I buy only VTT product I should receive also PDF to that product as well? How big will be discount if I buy PDF first then VTT?


Pathfinder Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
fingerzz wrote:
Aaron Shanks wrote:
fingerzz wrote:
Will this AP contain VTT?
Foundry VTT will have It available next Wednesday for purchase here on Paizo.com. There is no product page yet.
If I understand correctly if I buy only VTT product I should receive also PDF to that product as well? How big will be discount if I buy PDF first then VTT?

If you purchase the pdf first, the module should be discounted by the pdf's price


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
Aaron Shanks wrote:
fingerzz wrote:
Will this AP contain VTT?
Foundry VTT will have It available next Wednesday for purchase here on Paizo.com. There is no product page yet.

Do you mean this Wednesday?


1 person marked this as a favorite.

When will be avialable this adventure for Foundry VTT?

Dark Archive

Had we heard if this will be available in roll20?

Paizo Employee Marketing & Media Manager

1 person marked this as a favorite.
CorvusMask wrote:
Had we heard if this will be available in roll20?

Roll20 will not have this Adventure Path available at this time. Foundry VTT will.

Paizo Employee Marketing & Media Manager

2 people marked this as a favorite.
nategrey78 wrote:
When will be avialable this adventure for Foundry VTT?

11 AM Pacific is our target time today.

Paizo Employee Marketing & Media Manager

3 people marked this as a favorite.

Pathfinder Adventure Path #178: Punks in a Powderkeg (Outlaws of Alkenstar 1 of 3) for Foundry VTT is now available.

Grand Lodge Contributor

6 people marked this as a favorite.

It's SO GOOD

I left a comment in the thread if you're curious what the adventure author thinks.

Paizo Employee Marketing & Media Manager

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Pathfinder Adventure Path #178: Punks in a Powderkeg (Outlaws of Alkenstar 1 of 3) for Fantasy Grounds is now available.


Vanessa Hoskins wrote:

It's SO GOOD

I left a comment in the thread if you're curious what the adventure author thinks.

Any chance I can poke you about the bridge across the Ustradi that features in one encounter? Me and a few others are a little lost on why the PCs would need to cross the river, given that their start and destination are both on the same side of it.

Love the adventure! This one detail’s just been nagging at me.

Shadow Lodge

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

Foundry VTT build... WOW... Just WOW... um amazing JOB that ... and the ... but seriously in the place the thing it DISAPPEARS and the other thing can move... and the OH ... I have been really enjoying Foundry for about 3 months now but this just shows me how much more I need to learn... GREAT work on the conversion.

Grand Lodge Contributor

2 people marked this as a favorite.
keftiu wrote:
Vanessa Hoskins wrote:

It's SO GOOD

I left a comment in the thread if you're curious what the adventure author thinks.

Any chance I can poke you about the bridge across the Ustradi that features in one encounter? Me and a few others are a little lost on why the PCs would need to cross the river, given that their start and destination are both on the same side of it.

Love the adventure! This one detail’s just been nagging at me.

I think that was a combination of

"there are smaller tributaries and canals in the city"

and

"some east coast US cities have silly lay outs because they were based on foot paths and carts and not cars"

and

"in those cities the phrase 'you can't get there from here' is common because navigating them can get weird."

So figure because of the various roads and such in the city might be a different elevations (it is near a cliff, therefore likely rocky and uneven foundations to build a city around) so there might be only one "good" way to get from point A to point B. It's also entirely possible that they've had a bridge renovation project going on for years, and this little bridge is the only one available.

I suppose my biggest recommendation is "just go with it and don't sweat the details too much."


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Paizo Superscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories, PF Special Edition Subscriber; Starfinder Superscriber

In Manhattan, a borough of New York City, numbered streets generally run EW and numbered avenues generally run NS. There is nevertheless a place where fourth street and tenth street meet. :-)


3 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
Ed Reppert wrote:
In Manhattan, a borough of New York City, numbered streets generally run EW and numbered avenues generally run NS. There is nevertheless a place where fourth street and tenth street meet. :-)

I'm not sure why, but I read this in Steve Zirnkilton voice as he narrates the opening to Law and Order.

Grand Lodge Contributor

5 people marked this as a favorite.
Ed Reppert wrote:
In Manhattan, a borough of New York City, numbered streets generally run EW and numbered avenues generally run NS. There is nevertheless a place where fourth street and tenth street meet. :-)

I've you ever driven in Pittsburgh or, gods forbid, Boston then you know exactly what I mean by "you can't get there from here."

I realize now, after publication, that people who live in cities with sane city planning have no idea what its like to only have that one bridge that takes you from this neighborhood to that one. If you miss a turn, the alternative is a 20-30 minute detour or an illegal 3 point u-turn.


2 people marked this as a favorite.
Paizo Superscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories, PF Special Edition Subscriber; Starfinder Superscriber
Ly'ualdre wrote:
Ed Reppert wrote:
In Manhattan, a borough of New York City, numbered streets generally run EW and numbered avenues generally run NS. There is nevertheless a place where fourth street and tenth street meet. :-)
I'm not sure why, but I read this in Steve Zirnkilton voice as he narrates the opening to Law and Order.

"There are eight million stories in the Naked City." :-)


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Paizo Superscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories, PF Special Edition Subscriber; Starfinder Superscriber
Vanessa Hoskins wrote:
Ed Reppert wrote:
In Manhattan, a borough of New York City, numbered streets generally run EW and numbered avenues generally run NS. There is nevertheless a place where fourth street and tenth street meet. :-)

I've you ever driven in Pittsburgh or, gods forbid, Boston then you know exactly what I mean by "you can't get there from here."

I realize now, after publication, that people who live in cities with sane city planning have no idea what its like to only have that one bridge that takes you from this neighborhood to that one. If you miss a turn, the alternative is a 20-30 minute detour or an illegal 3 point u-turn.

I've driven in Pittsburgh exactly once. I don't remember it, I was asleep. Long story. :-)

Silver Crusade

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

Okay, I received an order notification for this back on May 5th, it's still marked as Pending, and I haven't yet gotten a response when I messaged customer service. Can someone tell me what's going on, or should I go ahead and write this off?


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

Last I heard there's a backlog in CS's email queue. Waiting is... :-)

Paizo Employee Marketing & Media Manager

Val'bryn2 wrote:
Okay, I received an order notification for this back on May 5th, it's still marked as Pending, and I haven't yet gotten a response when I messaged customer service. Can someone tell me what's going on, or should I go ahead and write this off?

Sorry for the wait. Customer service will return to replying to email inquiries when the offices reopen tomorrow.

Silver Crusade

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Ed Reppert wrote:
Last I heard there's a backlog in CS's email queue. Waiting is... :-)

Unfortunately it's not the waiting for the email that's bothering me, it's the problem with the subscription.

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