PF#1 and #2 first impressions fresh off Savage Tide...


Rise of the Runelords


In the next few weeks my group’s Savage Tide campaign will finally come to end after over 2 years of play. When we finish I’ll post a pretty detailed review of the entire AP for those that are interested. It was easily the greatest adventure our group has played, and we have been playing together since the early 80s. Yes, that means we have played through all the TSR classics from each edition of the game and Savage Tide ranks #1 with our group. Above Slave Lords, the Giants series, and even the Drow series. Quite an accomplishment.
In the meantime I have been preparing to run RotRL next for the group. So far I have read PF#1 and PF#2 so I figured while Savage Tide was fresh in my mind I would post some initial impressions of RotRL in comparison.

1. I have been able to procure PF#1 and PF#2 in print used and for a great price from Amazon. For anyone interested in picking up any AP I recommend this route. Not only cheaper but ecologically more sound if you must have printed product.
2. Conversely, a used version PF#3 is much more expensive than the original list and a new copy is even more expensive. I thought this was odd considering its #3 in a series I’m not sure why demand is higher for this one, maybe because it’s in the sweet spot of level progression?
3. Right off the bat the flavor of PF#1 seems like a sea change to me as compared to ST. This may be because it has been many years (decades?) since I have run anything not based in Greyhawk so the Golarian setting seems very foreign. I couldn’t help but to keep making subliminal Greyhawk links to people and places and then realize that no such links exist as this is a new world. I imagine my players will do the same for a while during the AP.
4. The artwork in PF#1 and PF#2 is very unrealistic and stylized and is essentially useless for the PCs. Where as in ST the artwork was realistic and really showed the PC’s how the people, places, and monsters would look if they were real, in PF1/2 the artwork is heavily “stylized” and does not look in the least bit authentic. I realize this probably won’t change for RotRL but I hope a return to more realistic artwork is in the cards for future APs.
5. I found it strange that PF#1 essentially laid out the entire AP plot (as far as I can tell) right in the first few pages. Not just the plot of PF#1 but the entire AP. In ST even as GM I didn’t know the full story until I read almost the entire AP. I’m sure this had to do with the publishing process in Dungeon versus a standalone book, but it was quite a departure either way. At first I was confused as to how much was actually being described about the plot. It took me several reads through PF1 and PF2 to realize the PCs should not know or learn any of the Rune Lord, Thassilon, or Karzoug information until WAY later in the AP. This will be odd for the players considering the huge Thassilonian monuments scattered about Varisia, the land that is supposed to be there home.
6. I was a bit dismayed to read the major NPC interaction and motivations are VERY similar to those in ST. For instance:
a. The Ameiko/Tsuto interaction is almost identical to the Lavinia/Vanthus interaction of ST.
b. The Nualia “demon transformation” is almost identical to the Vanthus “demon transformation” in ST.
c. The Demonic influence in general of the antagonists (inspired by Lamshtu) is very similar to the Demoinc influence in general (inspired by Demogorgon) in ST.
d. Succubus and/or evil females play a heavy antagonistic role as did Rowyn/Harliss/Makcanthet in ST.
e. I can only hope that the briefly mentioned “Riddleport:,city of pirates” does not play a huge role in the future story. I might as well send the players back to Scuttlecove.

I will most likely have to change some or all of these elements so my players don’t think “Here we go again.”, or are otherwise bored by these plot points.

PF1 and 2 are good but hopefully PF3 will really kick things up a notch and cover some new ground.


cibet44 wrote:


1. I have been able to procure PF#1 and PF#2 in print used and for a great price from Amazon. For anyone interested in picking up any AP I recommend this route. Not only cheaper but ecologically more sound if you must have printed product.

I agree, but then I'm a proponent of dead tree gaming. I like pdfs and have tons of them for various games, but when it comes down to it, nothing works better than a good old fashioned hard copy for me. I can't explain it, but I just like a book more. I'm not exacltly sure how buying off Amazon is more exologically more sound than buying form a store or directly from Paizo, but then that's never a concern for me when I buy any book.

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2. Conversely, a used version PF#3 is much more expensive than the original list and a new copy is even more expensive. I thought this was odd considering its #3 in a series I’m not sure why demand is higher for this one, maybe because it’s in the sweet spot of level progression?

I believe my local store has a used copy (at least they used to the last time I looked) and they are only asking the original price. If you are willing to deal with someone you don't know, I can verify that it is still there, and work something out. I'd only ask to have my costs covered. Not looking to make a profit. I can also check for any others that you are missing. They have lots of the APs there in their used book shelf. From what I remember they are in quite good condition for being used copies.

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3. Right off the bat the flavor of PF#1 seems like a sea change to me as compared to ST. This may be because it has been many years (decades?) since I have run anything not based in Greyhawk so the Golarian setting seems very foreign. I couldn’t help but to keep making subliminal Greyhawk links to people and places and then realize that no such links exist as this is a new world. I imagine my players will do the same for a while during the AP.

It's definitely different. I recommend picking up the Gazetter to get a better idea of the setting, especially if you are looking to save some money. If money is not a problem pick up the Campaign Setting book. It is well worth the money. It's definitely not Greyhawk. It is a much more realistic, yet high fantasy world in my experience.

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4. The artwork in PF#1 and PF#2 is very unrealistic and stylized and is essentially useless for the PCs. Where as in ST the artwork was realistic and really showed the PC’s how the people, places, and monsters would look if they were real, in PF1/2 the artwork is heavily “stylized” and does not look in the least bit authentic. I realize this probably won’t change for RotRL but I hope a return to more realistic artwork is in the cards for future APs.

This comes down to personal taste. I quite like it.

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5. I found it strange that PF#1 essentially laid out the entire AP plot (as far as I can tell) right in the first few pages. Not just the plot of PF#1 but the entire AP. In ST even as GM I didn’t know the full story until I read almost the entire AP. I’m sure this had to do with the publishing process in Dungeon versus a standalone book, but it was quite a departure either way. At first I was confused as to how much was actually being described about the plot. It took me several reads through PF1 and PF2 to realize the PCs should not know or learn any of the Rune Lord, Thassilon, or Karzoug information until WAY later in the AP. This will be odd for the players considering the huge Thassilonian monuments scattered about Varisia, the land that is supposed to be there home.

I'm not sure why this is a problem. By virtue of having more pages they have the ability to provide more info to the GM so that he better knows what is going on. They lay out the plot so the GM has an idea of where and where not to go so that he doesn't have to try and dig himself out of a hole later on.

It shouldn't be surprising that the characters don't know much about Thassilon. Thassilon has been gone for about 10,000 years. Almost all information was lost in that time and there is very little information available on it. The characters do have access to a source of Thassilonian info though in the sage Brodert Quink.

Golarian is world just now getting back on its feet after its destruction. Its set up to have room for exploration and adventure. To me it feels quite young and expanding, even though it has some ancient history. Greyhawk feels old and in decline to me. That's not saying I don't like Greyhawk, they are just different.

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6. I was a bit dismayed to read the major NPC interaction and motivations are VERY similar to those in ST. For instance:
a. The Ameiko/Tsuto interaction is almost identical to the Lavinia/Vanthus interaction of ST.
b. The Nualia “demon transformation” is almost identical to the Vanthus “demon transformation” in ST.
c. The Demonic influence in general of the antagonists (inspired by Lamshtu) is very similar to the Demoinc influence in general (inspired by Demogorgon) in ST.
d. Succubus and/or evil females play a heavy antagonistic role as did Rowyn/Harliss/Makcanthet in ST.
e. I can only hope that the briefly mentioned “Riddleport:,city of pirates” does not play a huge role in the future story. I might as well send the players back to Scuttlecove.

I didn't play the Savage Tide path, just read them as they came out, and didn't notice the similarities until now. While these are similar, the adventures in this AP are quite different from those in ST. Riddleport plays no part in this AP, The Second Darkness AP on the other hand it plays a part. The Ameiko/Tsuto and Nualia stories don't play a big part in the overall story, other than to introduce the character to something big happening. They are only the introduction to the big story with the real big bad guy, who isn't demonic at all. Unlike Lavinia/Vanthus, they really don't play a furthur role, unless you choose to come back to them.

I really think that overall the two APs are quite different. Looking at AP#1 in exclusion of the other five in the complete path I can see your concerns though. As far as I can remember, AP3 should be quite a bit different, although I think AP2 is quite different already.


In your 6A example it is similar, in 6B it isnt all that similar. Nualia will likely die in the first module and Vanthus had multiple physical changes the further you go into ST. Tsuto in all likelihood will also die in the first module, both are not meant to go any further.
6C can be said for most RPG products. Take the large amount of Far Realm-like adventures influenced by Cthulu etc. The end of RotRL also doesnt have you fighting Lamashtu.
6d is a matter of preference, evil females are great imho. RotRL has alot of evil male counterparts too.
6e- the city is a small part, and if memory serves they go to Magnimar at one point not Riddleport (the SD AP goes here). No pirate stuff.

In general... RotRL is very different overall from ST. It doesnt have any pirate or remote savage land island exploration flavor at all. Its quite the opposite. Its a traditional start in a small town and spread to the wilderness based AP.

As for #5 and the entire plot of the AP laid out, that was by design I believe. Its good for DMs to have a general idea of whats coming in future installments both for their own knowledge and for forshadowing for better story. Im pretty sure there was a Savage Tide overload type thing outlining what was to come in Dungeon magazine somewhere as well. Someone at Paizo mentioned something like this in an old thread detailing what they learned not to do with each AP that was released starting from Shackled City, I might be mistaken but I think outlining the campaign helped alot of folks after Shackled City.

I do agree that in early RotRL episodes, knowledge of things Thassilonian was skimpy indeed, but fixable with Knowledge History checks here and there if your players are so inclined. If my players opt to find out what all these ruined towers are, more power to them. As for Sandpoint itself and its ruined "lighthouse" id make Niska Mvashti the only resident that knows what it was without having to go to a big city library to research such things.

I think the Savage Tide was excellent, might even be the best AP ever (we didnt get too far into ST, about halfway into the 2nd module. I did read through all of them). RotRL is very different yet a more traditional style of D&D. Its just as well written if not better, imho of course. Its a new world out there in Golarion, and this AP will definately be memorable.

By the way, There is No Honor (ST) and the Whispering Cairn (AoW) both remain my favorite campaign starts ever. I keep the ST AP together with all of my PF stuff in one box. Everything else of old is packed away.

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2009, RPG Superstar Judgernaut

So, I have some free time at work today and noticed your post about coming off the Savage Tide AP and getting into Rise of the Runelords, and I figured I'd comment on some of your concerns/observations.

cibet44 wrote:
In the next few weeks my group’s Savage Tide campaign will finally come to end after over 2 years of play.

Congratulations. I've yet to make it to the end of any AP with my gaming group(s). But I've run "Burnt Offerings" from RotRL and "Edge of Anarchy" from CotCT. I'm also playing in PbP games for both these adventures, as well. Any comments I can give you will focus primarily on those APs rather than any comparison to Savage Tide.

cibet44 wrote:
I have been able to procure PF#1 and PF#2 in print used and for a great price from Amazon.

That's good to know. I believe some others have posted in the product discussion boards about not being able to find print copies of the first RotRL AP. So, knowing Amazon has it would certainly help those folks, as Paizo has already stated they're unlikely to reprint it.

cibet44 wrote:
Conversely, a used version PF#3 is much more expensive than the original list and a new copy is even more expensive. I thought this was odd considering its #3 in a series I’m not sure why demand is higher for this one, maybe because it’s in the sweet spot of level progression?

I suspect it might be for a different reason. PF#3 is "Hook Mountain Massacre" written by Nicholas Logue. It got a bit of an early reputation as pushing the bar really far in terms of mature content. (Brutal ogres can do that for an adventure). As such, it appealed to a certain segment of the buying public and turned off some others. But either way, it's one of the more well-known issues (and well-written) in the entire series. Your players will certainly be talking about it for years to come...whether for good or ill...based on its content alone. So that might be why it's a bit more expensive from a collector's perspective?

cibet44 wrote:
Right off the bat the flavor of PF#1 seems like a sea change to me as compared to ST. This may be because it has been many years (decades?) since I have run anything not based in Greyhawk so the Golarian setting seems very foreign. I couldn’t help but to keep making subliminal Greyhawk links to people and places and then realize that no such links exist as this is a new world. I imagine my players will do the same for a while during the AP.

I think that's going to happen anytime you change campaign settings. I believe some folks tried to find places in Greyhawk (and the Forgotten Realms) where they could relocate the adventure and recast some of the deities involved, etc. But really, Golarion is a very vibrant world. Lots of cool new stuff that's worth exploring separately from Greyhawk. Just give it time and, in my experience, players come around to a progressive understanding of new worlds and then they roll with it just fine.

cibet44 wrote:
The artwork in PF#1 and PF#2 is very unrealistic and stylized and is essentially useless for the PCs.

There were a number of complaints about that early on. As some of the Paizo folks indicated, they were in sink-or-swim mode to make the transition from a magazine publishing company to a subscription-based sourcebook publishing company. So, it took some time for them to be creating the all-new Pathfinder Chronicles Campaign Setting for the world of Golarion and some of the early steps of the actual adventures caused other areas (like the art) to lag a bit, I think.

cibet44 wrote:
I realize this probably won’t change for RotRL but I hope a return to more realistic artwork is in the cards for future APs.

Actually, I think the art did improve, even during the RotRL AP. And it's certainly very good in the other APs. Paizo has really found good footing in their art direction since that first initial release.

cibet44 wrote:
I found it strange that PF#1 essentially laid out the entire AP plot (as far as I can tell) right in the first few pages. Not just the plot of PF#1 but the entire AP.

Again, I think some of that stems from wanting to let people know up front what their subscription to an entire AP is going to include. It's a big difference to go from a monthly subscription to a magazine to a subscription for a sourcebook-sized adventure publication. So people want to know what their investment is getting them. As such, Paizo lays out the entire outline of a new AP at the end of an existing AP. And, in that first issue of an AP module, they generally give you a sense of where the entire story is going to go. Doubly so for their first release, as they were navigating uncharted waters and wanted to make sure they retained subscribers by being completely upfront with everyone.

Your mileage may vary, but I really like that they lay it all out for the GM. I think it actually empowers the GM to better guide his players, both in their character creation choices for the campaign, as well as where to look for those moments in the AP for them to shine or hook them more fully on some element of the plot.

cibet44 wrote:
I was a bit dismayed to read the major NPC interaction and motivations are VERY similar to those in ST. For instance:...The Ameiko/Tsuto interaction is almost identical to the Lavinia/Vanthus interaction of ST.

You'll find that Tsuto quickly fades into the background as a minor player in the first adventure only. Ameiko sticks around as an NPC for the PCs to interact with as they come to view Sandpoint as their home. But other than that, no big involvement from Ameiko either.

cibet44 wrote:
The Nualia “demon transformation” is almost identical to the Vanthus “demon transformation” in ST.

Again, Nualia is the primary villain of "Burnt Offerings" but she has a very minor role overall in the grand scheme of things.

cibet44 wrote:
The Demonic influence in general of the antagonists (inspired by Lamshtu) is very similar to the Demoinc influence in general (inspired by Demogorgon) in ST.

The Lamashtu angle almost completely fades after the first adventure. The RotRL AP deals with far less demonic influence over the course of the campaign. It's much more about an ancient society of powerful wizards and one of them stirring back to life.

cibet44 wrote:
Succubus and/or evil females play a heavy antagonistic role as did Rowyn/Harliss/Makcanthet in ST.

I can't really speak to this one, as I'm not familiar with how those others were used in Savage Tide. I've heard some female gamers express a bit of concern over the amount of evil female villains the heroes are expected to violently slay (or oppose) in the course of the APs (for instance, in Curse of the Crimson Throne, there's an evil queen behind much of the plot). But, in general, hot female villains help sell products more swiftly and consistently than the alternative. So, playing that card again and again meets the goal of staying in business even if it does get repetitive at times.

cibet44 wrote:
I can only hope that the briefly mentioned “Riddleport:,city of pirates” does not play a huge role in the future story. I might as well send the players back to Scuttlecove.

Nope. You won't see Riddleport at all in RotRL. It does feature prominently in the early going of Paizo's third AP, Second Darkness, though.

cibet44 wrote:
I will most likely have to change some or all of these elements so my players don’t think “Here we go again.”, or are otherwise bored by these plot points.

Again, I don't know how much RotRL treads the same ground as Savage Tide. There must certainly be some similarities given your analysis. And, in all honesty, maybe some of that wasn't completely accidental. After all, Savage Tide was seen as one of the most popular APs Paizo ever did...and even they admit they learned something new about how to do APs after each one they published. Given they were launching a new direction for their company at the time RotRL came out, it's entirely possible they wanted to re-use some of the more popular hooks and elements from successful APs like Savage Tide, etc. to retain their customer base. But, in all honesty, I don't think it involved that nearly as much as just trying to put together the most compelling, interesting adventure scenario they could use to launch the whole Pathfinder AP product line.

However, based on what you've shared so far, I might recommend that you look into the Curse of the Crimson Throne AP rather that RotRL as your first exposure to Pathfinder and the world of Golarion. I don't think it would duplicate stuff from Savage Tide hardly at all. And it might give your players something fresh and new...but awesome!...to sink their teeth into after wrapping up Savage Tide. Then, after you knockout that AP (which might take another couple of years), you can always come back and pick up RotRL to go back into something with somewhat familiar themes. Or, you might want to pick up one of the newer APs like Kingmaker or Serpent Skull.

But that's just my two-cents,
--Neil


I have a damaged extra copy of PF #3 I will send you. Send me your street address in an email to a gmail account of the same name as I use here. Someone once did a similar favor on these boards and I'm eager to unload the karma.

I haven't played ST, but #3 is my favorite in the Runelords series thus far, because of the sheer brutality contained therein.

Sczarni

Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure, Companion, Lost Omens Subscriber

I'll just give some brief comments:

points 1 and 2 This point is kind of funny... a year ago #2 was sold out everywhere and going for up to $80 on ebay. Then they reprinted it, which is why you could find it so low... Others have commented on the possible reasons for price increase on 3...

3 you might also want to check out The Wiki. To give you some more basic information on the world as needed. It does have spoilers in it, so you may need to copy/paste some of the information if you are looking to use it for handouts.

4 Much of the art in the first and some of the art in the second AP were more stylized and cartoony than they wanted, but with the stress of writing this on top of the magazines, they didn't have the resources or time to order a new set. Again, the wiki has a Gallery page that you can browse work, some of this is official work, and some is fanart

5 This was done for Age of Worms and for Savage Tide as well- if you look at Dungeon 138 one of the main selling points is "An extensive Savage Tide sneak preview" which details the expected path (at the time of printing) that the adventure path would take.

Since others have responded better to 6 than I could, I'll leave that to them

Dark Archive

I agree with Nspicer about the art improving. I didn't like it during #1 either. I do believe that enough people had enough issues with it from the beginning that that problem was quickly dealt with.

I just finished ST AP as well. It was a great AP for sure. RotRL is, I must say, my favorite thing that I've run EVER if not tied with DEAD GODS from Planescape. We are currently on #5 and it's STILL awesome. One suggestion...read the whole AP before running it. The PC to NPC connections you will make will pay off in the long run.

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