Pathfinder Adventure Path #184: The Ghouls Hunger (Blood Lords 4 of 6)

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Pathfinder Adventure Path #184: The Ghouls Hunger (Blood Lords 4 of 6)
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The Bloody Burden of Aristocracy!

Formally inducted to the Blood Lords as recognition for their past victories, the player characters soon find that the dangers hidden in this prestigious role are as great as the rewards. The new aristocrats of Geb must fend off intrigues of their power-hungry peers, escort the priest-king of a subterranean ghoul nation, and quell a cannibalistic cult—all while investigating the plot to poison living residents across Geb and beyond. The mysterious mastermind behind this plot stalks the halls of power, where the characters now tread, and he knows that his enemies are closing in!

The Ghouls Hunger is a Pathfinder adventure for four less-than-good-hearted 11th-level characters. This adventure continues the Blood Lords Adventure Path, a six-part, monthly campaign in which the characters rise from skilled troubleshooters to join the Blood Lords who rule a land of the dead. The adventure also details the worship of Kabriri, the demon lord of ghouls, and presents numerous downtime activities for the newest Blood Lords to expand their authority. New items, feats, monsters, and more abound when The Ghouls Hunger.

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: 978-1-64078-467-3

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

Pathfinder Nexus on Demiplane
Archives of Nethys

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Balanced fun! Really lets you play an evil overlord!

4/5

Going to break this down scene by scene:

Parade/Audience - Loved this. Put on the FF8 Edea's Parade theme and chewed the scenery on it. Really good intro. Free tschotchkes is always nice.

Kortash is kind of a hit-or-miss thing. You only really need to talk to him 3-4 times total. But I didn't find him a grating NPC.

The Mortician's Suite - Starting us off with a fossil golem right after the group had to fight one at the end of book 3 seems like an odd stylistic choice. Your average group is going to nuke it from orbit.

The Gliminals are a BRUTAL fight if you heal by negative energy and are at all undead. The Gliminals can spread damage among themselves by daisy chaining bond in light. Be very careful with this fight.

Xharduun's Secret - This one can be hard for people to figure out as Secret Page has no other savings throws other than "Choose to Disbelieve" (and unless you know something is up with the books, you won't) and you wouldn't know to say a password unless you already knew they were Secret Page'd.

The Houseguests - Loved this part. The Research task right after was great as well as it was perfectly timed when the group immediately learns to HATE these guys.

Tower of Gnawed Bones - FUN. Love this place. Multiple methods of insertion, multiple paths. Not being stealthy invites a huge fight at the entrance (though can make the latter a cake-walk), and you can convince a Qlippoth to do your dirty work. Fun!

The Waterfront/Cerulean Glade - Dread Wraiths can't harm people who have negative healing, so this is a bit of a drag. The Rotbombers are pretty easy, the main thing is trying to save the dockworkers (if you care).

The chase of the final wraith is pretty exciting, but it has a very low threshold for failure (6 rounds, 6 events, no margin for error).

Cerulean Glade - Solar Golems were cool, I liked their beam of light attack. It was satisfying to crush that smuggler (the two vampires swore they'd feast on his heartblood, couldn't interrogate him). An aside about what Talking Corpse does might have been helpful. Again, a Dread Wraith at the final encounter adds nothing to an all negative-healing party.

Second Research Activity -

This was the only part of the AP I skipped, as it seemed like it broke the pacing. Your characters are falsely accused of something, and they have to spend days figuring out the next move. But there's no real pressure on them other than a -4 penalty to interactions with the public. So really you're just waiting around for them to succeed. I restructured this as a limited research goal to discover Bremeteria Veng, who then delivered a bunch of exposition linking the shadow ash and the Yearning Sanctum/Empty Chorus together.

Yearning Sanctum - - Again, more fun. Fun ways to bypass encounters. My wizard was so proud she brought along Disintegrate to nail that Force Wall, bypassing an area completely once the group climbed the balcony! Rinnella Brennon is a great NPC. It was fun to use her and I had her interact with the party Urgathoan at a banquet earlier in the adventure.

The Deathless Arena - - Boy did my Tyrant enjoy crit-succeeding on the challenge task. I appreciated that having hard evidence made the check of choice easier. And having a Thunderdome with the guy who's been making your life miserable was great.

The only part that's shakey is that Cawadok is a frickin' MURDERER and the part about him taking a dive is pretty shaky. My group focused on him first and made the mistake of engaging him in melee and he nearly killed them, which is odd for a character whose mistress specifically told him to take a dive. I think giving him a flat-footed penalty for the engagement or some other debuff might have been appropriate if the group agrees with Brennon's plan. The Plague Giants can be pretty brutal if they catch you in a pincer.

Regarding allegations of this part being a 'railroad':

I don't understand why PC's wouldn't want to do the Thunderdome, unless they're goody-goods and playing the wrong AP. If you hate it or feel like it's forced, I guess you could bypass it and go straight to the next part without much fuss*, but Hyrune's gotta die eventually so there is no 'non violent' solution to this.

* If a group were to do this, I might actually have Hyrune call THEM out to the Thunderdome.

The Hanging Castle - - I really liked the concept for this, but the map we're given on the last page of the AP wasn't quite able to do it justice and my player-group struggled with the idea of a 3D space. That being said it does certainly encourage alternative solutions (be sure to emphasize to them before they go down that this is definitely a giant dwarf fortress-esque cavern and they need to be prepared to move 3D).

I think Weeping Jack and Harmony in Agony should've been a combo encounter, preferably in the center chamber. The spacing is in general too tight (knife fights in phone booths mostly) and they can both be bypassed if your group doesn't zig instead of zag. My group went E2->E9->E10->E3 (but only because they heard harp music) -> E8 -> E11 -> E12. Adding things like the Tolokand were interesting but ultimately a little too much padding at the very end. There are a LOT of fights in here when all you're really craving is going down and killing Hyrune.

Also, my summoner pointed this out to me later, but you can just scry his position and teleport down there at this point.

Fight with Hyrune - Suitably adequate. Him having a possible escape route gives you incentive to play competently. The Unrisen were kind of average (at this point all your characters have fire). I appreciated that he lines them up in front of them to block the group's path so he can monologue. Rare foresight on the part of a villain! More should think about positioning beforehand.

Unanswered Questions

Did Kortash know what was going to happen at the docks? Was he trying to help you? What was his angle?

Why are the Urgathoans and Kabrirites feuding? I looked at Kabriri's entry in the adventure toolbox, Urgathoa's entry in Gods and Magic, and several other places and all over the AP and couldn't figure out what Brenon's motivation was.

Berline Haldoli Rating: 0/10

Berline is one of the most amusing NPC's to come out of Paizo's Pathfinder in a couple years. Her absence is notable!


Too combat-heavy, but still good

3/5

A bit more combat-heavy than I was hoping for after the point in the adventure path when the PCs become Blood Lords themselves. But the investigations, locations, and enemies are still fun, and there are plenty of unique NPCs to interact with. I love the way that Geb himself is written.

The final chapter feels a bit convoluted, with a public challenge of a death match against a Blood Lord being a big leap to make in the story, and something I don't see a lot of PCs being especially keen to do. It's very railroad-y of a solution, and I wish there was some way to find a non-violent alternative.


Raising the stakes with some epic NPCs

5/5

The Good:
—A good mix of combat and non-combat tasks (though it leans a little heavier on the combat side than some of the other legs of this AP).
—Some epic NPCs for the players to interact with, giving this leg of the AP a nice high power-vibe.
—A couple fun combat set-ups that make use of the environment, like the arena fight. More of this, please!
—The back matter on Kabiri is great.
—The Blood Lord Machinations downtime activities in the back are a great way to help the players feel like political power players. I do wish, though, that this played a bit more of a role in the AP. Something like the kinds of rules in Hell’s Rebels or Strength of Thousands, where the players get tangible benefits for advancing to different positions with each faction.

The Bad:
—One of the key plot moves (involving a ship) to get the PCs back to the main plot is set up as what seems like an unlikely coincidence. It would be more satisfying if the story moved back to the main plot line in a more natural way.
—It seems strange that the powerful NPC from the last AP, who advocated for the PCs advancement, is nowhere to be found in this AP.

The Ugly/Pretty:
—Really beautiful maps on this one. Dripping with flavor, and mixing in a lot aesthetic details regarding the rooms into the maps themselves.


Love 6 book APs!

5/5

Fantastic book. It's really nice to have a full 1-20 conclusion to a story. Always love to see high levels being supported in tabletop games. Please keep making high level content!


1/5


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Dark Archive

2 people marked this as a favorite.

Geezus people, stop having bombing war in the review scores :'D I want to read other people's opinion on this x'D


3 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Charter Superscriber
CorvusMask wrote:
Geezus people, stop having bombing war in the review scores :'D I want to read other people's opinion on this x'D

Thanks for your review and the information in it! I haven't delved into this book enough yet to have an informed opinion, but I appreciate your thoughts on what works well in the adventure.

Certainly much more useful than 1-star (or 5-star) reviews with no context as to what gave it that rating.


2 people marked this as a favorite.
CorvusMask wrote:
Geezus people, stop having bombing war in the review scores :'D I want to read other people's opinion on this x'D

IMO, Blood Lords might have been better as a three-part series. I have been following the PF AP line since Skull & Shackles, yet this is the first time I have been genuinely weary of a specific AP. I'm not even that excited for Gatewalkers, I just want Blood Lords to end already.

Dark Archive

Honestly though, the Blood Lords seems to be pretty cleanly split between "First half that exists so you can build yourself up level and reputation wise" and "Second half where you are actually blood lords and into meat of things."

Of course depends on what book 5 and 6 will be like, but book 4 has quite different vibe from first three books.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

I'm not a big fan of this AP but I knew that going in so I'm not surprised. That said, I absolutely love the supporting material so far so no complaints from me.


4 people marked this as a favorite.

The Kabriri aphorisms are phenomenal. “Pick a man” as a well-worn phrase in Nemret Noktoria makes me grin.

I’m curious about the mention of a growing number of Ghouls devoted to Arazni and Nocticula… I’d love to meet some in play! Between them and Tanagaar’s Arrows, I like the surprising variety of friendly cannibals at our fingertips in 2e.

EDIT: Undertaker is one of the funniest spells I’ve ever read.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

8 people marked this as a favorite.
keftiu wrote:

The Kabriri aphorisms are phenomenal. “Pick a man” as a well-worn phrase in Nemret Noktoria makes me grin.

I’m curious about the mention of a growing number of Ghouls devoted to Arazni and Nocticula… I’d love to meet some in play! Between them and Tanagaar’s Arrows, I like the surprising variety of friendly cannibals at our fingertips in 2e.

Yay! Glad you liked those aphorisms!

I've always felt that ghouls are one of those undead that are best suited toward being "non-evil but still creepy allies" in play, in large part due to the way Lovecraft portrayed ghouls (particularly in "The Dream Quest of Unknown Kadath") and more recently in the ghoul-themed stories of Caitlin R. Kiernan. These types seem like perfect matches for faiths like Arazni and Nocticula to me. Or even to Shelyin, perhaps.

And I can also see a civil and proper ghoul noting that they're not REALLY cannibals—ghouls don't eat ghouls, after all! That more the type of gross thing you'd expect from ghasts. ;-)

Silver Crusade

James Jacobs wrote:
and more recently in the ghoul-themed stories of Caitlin R. Kiernan.

Oooo I will have to check those out when I get the chance, I loved Alabaster.


2 people marked this as a favorite.
James Jacobs wrote:
keftiu wrote:

The Kabriri aphorisms are phenomenal. “Pick a man” as a well-worn phrase in Nemret Noktoria makes me grin.

I’m curious about the mention of a growing number of Ghouls devoted to Arazni and Nocticula… I’d love to meet some in play! Between them and Tanagaar’s Arrows, I like the surprising variety of friendly cannibals at our fingertips in 2e.

Yay! Glad you liked those aphorisms!

I've always felt that ghouls are one of those undead that are best suited toward being "non-evil but still creepy allies" in play, in large part due to the way Lovecraft portrayed ghouls (particularly in "The Dream Quest of Unknown Kadath") and more recently in the ghoul-themed stories of Caitlin R. Kiernan. These types seem like perfect matches for faiths like Arazni and Nocticula to me. Or even to Shelyin, perhaps.

And I can also see a civil and proper ghoul noting that they're not REALLY cannibals—ghouls don't eat ghouls, after all! That more the type of gross thing you'd expect from ghasts. ;-)

One of my players is playing a Dhampir that was raised by a friendly Ghoul, Bugbear and Halfling as her adoptive family, so I am glad for more ideas to work with when it comes to creepy but not monstrous ghouls.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Rysky wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:
and more recently in the ghoul-themed stories of Caitlin R. Kiernan.
Oooo I will have to check those out when I get the chance, I loved Alabaster.

Her recent "Houses Under the Sea" collection has several of them in there—it's a bunch of her Mythos stories and they're wonderful!

Silver Crusade

James Jacobs wrote:
Rysky wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:
and more recently in the ghoul-themed stories of Caitlin R. Kiernan.
Oooo I will have to check those out when I get the chance, I loved Alabaster.
Her recent "Houses Under the Sea" collection has several of them in there—it's a bunch of her Mythos stories and they're wonderful!

Noice.


3 people marked this as a favorite.
James Jacobs wrote:
Rysky wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:
and more recently in the ghoul-themed stories of Caitlin R. Kiernan.
Oooo I will have to check those out when I get the chance, I loved Alabaster.
Her recent "Houses Under the Sea" collection has several of them in there—it's a bunch of her Mythos stories and they're wonderful!

Have you read “The Litany of Earth,” by Ruthanna Emrys? I know we’re straying off topic some, but it’s a really fascinating sympathetic depiction of a girl with Innsmouth heritage.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

5 people marked this as a favorite.
keftiu wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:
Rysky wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:
and more recently in the ghoul-themed stories of Caitlin R. Kiernan.
Oooo I will have to check those out when I get the chance, I loved Alabaster.
Her recent "Houses Under the Sea" collection has several of them in there—it's a bunch of her Mythos stories and they're wonderful!
Have you read “The Litany of Earth,” by Ruthanna Emrys? I know we’re straying off topic some, but it’s a really fascinating sympathetic depiction of a girl with Innsmouth heritage.

I haven't! More for my Amazon Wishlist! Thanks for the recommendation!

Scarab Sages

CorvusMask wrote:

I do like they avoid statting Kortash Khan since besides him being level 23 creature, 2e doesn't have mythic equivalent yet (though I know that doesn't prevent mythic npcs or monsters being adapted to 2e) and his nature as mystic theurge means he had two long spell-lists and I don't think this is right book for introducing concept of caster that casts both arcane and divine spells :D (though 2e undead bloodline is divine list instead)

I do like sneaky reference of him being "a true hierophant of his faith" though and that he is "a force against that cannot be defeated save by the most mythic and legendary of foes." xD I love sneaky nod backs like this

I don't think Kortash Khain was given a level, and it says that he has the capabilities of a wizard and cleric, not sorcerer like in 1E. It was Geb who is level 23.

Dark Archive

1 person marked this as a favorite.
NECR0G1ANT wrote:
CorvusMask wrote:

I do like they avoid statting Kortash Khan since besides him being level 23 creature, 2e doesn't have mythic equivalent yet (though I know that doesn't prevent mythic npcs or monsters being adapted to 2e) and his nature as mystic theurge means he had two long spell-lists and I don't think this is right book for introducing concept of caster that casts both arcane and divine spells :D (though 2e undead bloodline is divine list instead)

I do like sneaky reference of him being "a true hierophant of his faith" though and that he is "a force against that cannot be defeated save by the most mythic and legendary of foes." xD I love sneaky nod backs like this

I don't think Kortash Khain was given a level, and it says that he has the capabilities of a wizard and cleric, not sorcerer like in 1E. It was Geb who is level 23.

He was CR 23/MR 6 in 1e :p

Paizo Employee Creative Director

6 people marked this as a favorite.

My decision to not stat up Kortash's stats in this one is precisely because I didn't want to change what he was in 1st edition—a super-powerful divine/arcane spellcaster with extra powers beyond those normally achievable. Since 2nd edition doesn't yet have rules or guidelines for translating over what we called "mythic content" in 1st edition, I figured it'd be best to not stat up Kortash and instead present a more adventure-friendly influence block for him.

If/when we do something akin to mythic for 2nd edition, I'll be first in line championing something that presents mythic stats for characters like Kortash, but I wouldn't expect anything like that to come along anytime soon.

Envoy's Alliance

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

Page 81 error:

Story Spoiler:
"It’s also a key ingredient in the plot to poison the food aboard the Wyvern’s Wife that results in a disastrous outcome in Chapter 2 of this adventure."
Here should be chapter 3.


3 people marked this as a favorite.

I've not read books 5 or 6 yet, but upon finishing 'The Ghoul's Hunger', I feel you could run a pretty satisfactory, condensed version of this AP by running books 1 > 2 > 4 and having Blood Lord Hyrune be the main antagonist of the AP.


2 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber; Starfinder Superscriber
CorvusMask wrote:
Oh right, forgot to mention in review I think this book has another example of effects of the post no slavery policy (as in one of encounters has indentured undead servants of one guy who are noted to have about one year of debt left)

Lmao. Some "no slavery" policy.

Also, interesting fact, we named one of the characters of this AP "Nailah Villablanca". Just gave her a spanish flair for this AP on a whim.

Well, turned out that was prophetic, since the tetrahedrons surrounding the Cinerarium are called Alcazars, a name used for Muslim-built castles in southern Spain.

Starting the book off with a fight with a Fossil Golem seems...odd. You HAVE to fight one at the end of Book 3, so the party's just going to nuke it from orbit as soon as they see it.


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

4 Gliminals, all able to daisy chain Bond in Light together with fast healing 10 means you're really fighting a monster with 640 HP and Fast Healing 40 that can spread any save-or-suck spells around like a 5e boss with legendary resistance and can hit you with enough spells to kill 1d2 Undead per round. It's an insanely easy fight if you're a normie who hasn't taken the ritual, obviously, but a damn near impossible one if you all took the Negative Energy healing factor.

Seems slightly overtuned. Mostly the Bond in Light thing. I think ruling that they either A. can't bond to other Gliminals or B. a bonded Gliminal can't bond with another

might have been prudent

Yeah, you can use Wall of Stone or something and separate them in half, but that's pretty situational


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

Sumbreivas are awesome. I wish we had a lesser version of them we could use as they're just cool as Hell -- like Predators from the Negative Energy plane.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber; Starfinder Superscriber

I posted a scene by scene breakdown of Part 4 if anyone's interested. 4/5.

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