I am going to start running a Pathfinder group starting in the summer. I am the most familiar with Pathfinder of the group, but everyone is well versed in tabletop RPGs, mostly old school D&D.
With this group and what I am interested in putting work into, I have narrowed it down to Runelords and Reign of Winter. Runelords sounds like it might be easier for a first time GM, but with the gaming this group has done, I thought that something a little different might impress them more.
Am I crazy? Is RoW too tough for a first timer? Any other Adventure Paths I should look at?
Reign of Winter has problems due to the weather rules. You can just ignore them (say the snow already fell), or struggle through it. It is still a fantastic campaign.
Runelords may be easier in some ways but does also include some alternative bits that may be problematic. The advantage is that the Anniversary Edition costs less than buying all six parts of any AP... and there is plenty of material and help online for it. Eventually you'll still run into environmental rules, however.
I'm running both. Both are fun. Both can be difficult in places.
One suggestion is to run a couple small 1st level modules with players to get your feel for things. There are even some free PDFs available with modules for various levels. Then have the group make characters (I'd suggest either do points or roll one set of stats and have everyone use them so everyone has the same relative power) and start the AP.
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Reign of Winter is fun but strays pretty far afield from the core conventions of Pathfinder. this may alienate some players if they aren't familiar with the game, despite the amount of history they have with gaming in general. I consider it more of a campaign for folks who have grown a little tired with the classic feel adventures and want something different.
My recommendation is Rise of the Runelords which, by design, is a classic fantasy gaming experience. The book is considerably less expensive and is very well written with some classic encounters and stories.
I'd chime in in support of RotR as well. It was also designed as an introduction to the world of Golarion, so you get that added benefit. When you move on to other APs, your players will have a stronger background of the world and its history to draw upon.
I would advise running runelords for the reasons stated above. A very classic campaign wich serves as a good introduction to both the world of golarion and the pathfinder rules (this goes double with the anneversary edition which has the added bonus of being somewhat cheaper then 6 other AP books).
However if your players are into lord of the rings there is the jade regent path. It has that feel of an epic journey accros the world and a very focused group of NPC's for roleplaying. (it has some flawed sub-systems though, mostly the caravan combat is a nightmare if you go by RAW.)
Don't have first hand experience with RoW but friends who played it found it to be slightly dissapointing. Their main argument was that it was a pretty big railroad with little time to do stuff not related to the story. (could be a DM issue though).
Rise of the Runelords - The Anniversary Edition is great and gives you everything you need with none of the extras (the stories and endless new creatures). Nice classic feeling AP
Reign of Winter - Fun, especially at later levels. However, it is heavily themed and may be 'off-putting' to some.
Of the two, I suggest Runelords Anniversary. Lots of support and peripherals one can get with it to enhance, and very little in 'extra rules,' like weather and caravans.