Yep, it's yet another, "What Path should I GM?", post.
My group is careening toward the end of Carrion Crown. There are still a few months to go but I like to get a jump on preparation months in advance so now is the time to prepare.
I essentially offered my group (we play in Baton Rouge) a myriad of options of games for me to run next. I included some options outside of Pathfinder but it seems as if they are keen on sticking to the tried and true.
Through a series of emails they narrowed down their choices to:
It has essentially come down to me.
The majority of them seem to favor Second Darkness but the prospects of conversion and rewriting portions of the Path kind of discourage me.
I actually like the idea of the caravan/marco polo adventure and eastern cultures of Jade Regent. The prospects of an At the Mountains of Madness-like diversion in the arctic are certainly appealing.
Iron Gods adds the prospect of something that one of my players hasn't either read or played in. (He seems to have done one or the other for all the paths)
In the opinion of the boards is the extra work of Second Darkness worth it in comparison to Jade Regent or the great unknown of Iron Gods?
Second Darkness I think is a highly underrated path (and I was one of the underraters back in the day) but I think it would really work best as a one-on-one game rather than a group game without major modifications.
Jade Regent is terrible imo. I love eastern stuff but the transition from Varisia-Minkai is a slog. The setpieces were relatively uninteresting and when you finally get to Tian Xia you are outsiders constantly doing crap for other people just to "prove yourself". Not an enjoyable experience imo.
Iron Gods hasn't come out yet but looks awesome, I can't wait to play it.
Alright, my opinions. I'll leave out Iron Gods, since it is not out yet. From what I've seen from the individual AP blurbs, I must admit that I am a bit underwhelmed about the scope of the AP (then again, I am currently running Wrath, so that kind of scope can't be expected). I'll just say that I think it will heavily depend on if you and your players can abide all the laser guns and combat droids in your fantasy world.
Second Darkness is an AP I am currently playing in, although it has been on hiatus for more than two years now. I'll just say that there is a very noticeable break in the story after module two and the AP itself has a rather poor reputation because of that and other problems on the board.
Jade Regent is an AP I have GM'ed to conclusion. In my opinion, it is one of the two best AP's Paizo has published so far. There are some pitfalls however, which I've pointed out in my review of the AP from last year and again in the latest AP grading thread.
After some personal deliberations and some advice from one of my players I've added Kingmaker and Wrath of the Righteous back to the list.
WotR is far and away in last place however. I'm playing in the path right now and even I am just baffled at the cheese. Of course there are a couple of optimized characters and our DM is fairly new to Pathfinder. I might be able to do something with it if I took some notes from some of the big threads about alterations to mythic rules but... as much as I like the crusade theme I will likely go with one of the other three.
Jade Regent is definitely looking much better now that I've checked some of the threads.
I have set a goal for myself to decide by this Sunday.
Kingmaker- its a very PC driven campaign, it can be incredible with the right group and an absolute train wreck without, the best comparisons would be King Arthur with a splash of Robin Hood.
Wrath of the Righteous- it is very story driven, as you know the combat balance is..... problematic, almost requires the party to Un-optimize, the story is great tho:)
Iron Gods- looks great, you would be running it as it comes out which does hand cuff you a bit as you dont know for sure what happens in the future.
if it was me i'd choose between Jade Regent and Kingmaker with the group the final deciding vote.
whatever you decide can't wait to hear what it is:)
I recommend against Kingmaker and against Wrath. Wrath has a decent story but, as you said, too much cheese through mythic rules. Kingmaker... well, if you like supplying 200% of the work that is done for you in the AP itself, it has a chance of being decent. Without that, it suffers from not enough story and one-encounter-per-day-itis.
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If your players are willing to
put in as much input as you do as GM
enjoy inter character play, decision making, choice
knowing that what they do matters
allow for long periods of time to pass and not want to be 18th level before their PCs are 18 years old
put in as much input as you do as GM
Then KM is excellent
I'd recommend JR we are starting book 5 (almost), its been great and a lot of fun rping, combats and story. The journey across the world can be great, I would check the threads here for some common fixes (i.e. shortening book 3, avoiding the dungeon in book 4, throw out the caravan and romance sub systems and consider trimming a character or two from the supporting cast).
I really can’t recommend Kingmaker, it has some nice ideas, but what my players really liked, was almost entirely added by me. The kingdom building system was a real slog (and frankly broken, until fixed in a later hardcover release) and with the sole exception of a single CR4 monster in the first adventure and a daemon in a latter part of the adventure path, it was pretty much a cakewalk for my players. A ranger, a summoner, a cleric, and a ninja destroyed that adventure path, and frankly the summoner wasn’t the broken character.
The main plot is all over the place, and the last adventure is a pretty tough to add to the preceding 5. Foreshadowing (regarding the main plot and the situation in the north) is pretty lackluster, and is one of my major complaints. It certainly has the potential to be great, but I would suggest to remove certain mechanics (exploration, maybe kingdom building), add some diplomatic visits to neighboring countries (the book Guide to the River Kingdoms is an excellent resource).
I am currently running Wrath, but I have to say, that this adventure suffers from the inexperience with the mythic rules, but the core of the problem is, that adventure difficulty is to low across the board. Mythic just multiplies the problem by a factor of 2-4 (depending on the tier and the fact, that mythic characters just have plenty of endurance).
The story is very interesting and I like the fact that it is really inclusive, but be prepared to modify every single encounter (and cut/combine plenty of them).
Jade Regent is very good, but even then, I would suggest to shorten part 3 and to remove a couple of new subsystems (and maybe a companion or two).
I ran both Kingmaker and Jade Regent from start to finish. I heavily recommend Jade Regent. You can check the JR forum for the AP's weak spots, but overall it is awesome. I ran a total of five Paizo APs, and JR ist one of the two best IMO (the other being Curse of the Crimson Throne).
Second Darkness has an infamous reputation around here, but I never experienced it myself. Iron Gods sounds interesting, but no one can really know how it will turn out. Well, no one except the fine folks at Paizo.
I've never got very far reading jade regent. I always dismissed it on the grounds that we don't like "eastern stuff". Based on some of these comments, ill have to give it a proper look.
Kingmaker is very much a sandbox, and requires a lot of work (remember to update the kingdom rules to those from Ultimate Campaign). Beware endless magic item crafting hi-jinks!
Jade Regent can be a lot of fun, particularly if the players interact well with the four main NPCs. The caravan rules need an update, but have not yet received any officially. Check the JR boards for help regarding that point. Book 3 ... well, that journey _is_ supposed to be a long slog. Maybe add on some of the excellent 3PP additions?
Iron Gods looks cool, but I always wait until an entire AP is out before running it. Otherwise one can paint oneself into a corner, or miss out on some great opportunity.
WotR: mythic. Is that your cup of tea or not? (It wasn't mine, but I really want those demon lord write-ups!)
Second Darkness, as mentioned above, has a big change in tone between books 2 and 3. When I run it, I will tell my players up-front that they probably should make two characters each: a L 1 character suitable for adventuring in Riddleport and environs, and a higher-level one who is ready, willing, and able to work for the elves. An NPC can then help the storyline in its transition from one group to another ("X has reported that Y happened at Z, which has repercussions for us here at A, so look out for B while you're doing C.") Theoretically a PC character could also make the transition, but it really depends upon the character in question. Also, you might want to re-work parts of book 5 (some of the politicking by the NPCs has really annoyed players in the past). And another note: it's not a paladin-friendly AP. It would be best if the players save any paladin character concepts for WotR or something else - but not Skull and Shackles either! :) Oh, yeah, and you need to convert it to PF from 3.5, including adding a class level to NPCs (and possibly using some APG/UM/UC/ACG classes instead).
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This is personal preference but I do not run APs I do not have all the parts to. I just like making sure the big picture makes sense all the way through. In many cases I have to make changes and I want to know what making chanmges will do to the story. So I would probably not run Iron Gods if you are starting soon.
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Likely not mentioned because they weren't on the OP's list. I was only able to play the first two books of either before the GM's lost interest but I thought they were both spectacular.
I mean hell if we are including every AP in this decision Curse of the Crimson Throne is the one they should be playing, it's by far the best =p
Oh man do I want to run Curse of the Crimson Throne...
I was actually pretty keen on Skull and Shackles and Reign of Winter too but one of my players vetoed S&S because he thought it would be boring.
The other two never even got mentioned. :/
Now that I've whittled it down to Jade Regent and Kingmaker I'm just gonna have them vote on Sunday and pick the path with the highest votes.
Of course I could just toss out all their suggestions and go for CotCT... Not sure it would go over well.
CotCT is pretty spectacular! i think once they start they won't give a sht if you made them or not:) Skull & Shackles is not boring in the least but if he vetoed it no sense in forcing it upon them:)
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|NOG the Demoralizer|
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Tybid, if you haven't done so and have the extra scratch pick up Crimson Throne book 1, it is one of the coolest pieces of writing I've seen, AP or otherwise, come out of Paizo. Reading that alone might likely just have you remove the vote from the table and go for it instead.
Ive only had experience playing JR, but as a fan of game fiction I've read Runelords, Crimson Throne, half of Skull and Shackles, Wrath, Mummy's Mask, and am starting to work on Carrion Crown. JR is a really fun environment, it helps I have an awesome game group, but if I had one to choose to play/gm next it would be CotCT.
Wait a couple of weeks and I can get back to you on Carrion Crown, maybe Legacy of Fire too :)
If CotCT is so well thought of, maybe Paizo should consider re-releasing it the way they did RotRL.
I don't know how well the re-release of RotRL sold, but if enough people really think CotCT us one of the best, if not the best, AP written, then maybe this should be brought to Paizo's attention (by lots of folk!) to see whether they'd consider updating it and releasing it as one big hardback book.
Maybe for the 10th anniversary ....
I'd certainly buy it.
If you're not deterred by running an AP for which all the parts have not yet been released...
I've been enjoying running Mummy's Mask quite a bit. One of the neat hooks is that they have really taken the 'unusual game mechanic' thing to heart in this AP. There are specially detailed rules systems for :
Some pretty neat stuff and we're only halfway(ish) through the books.
CotCT is probably the only AP I would be willing to play a second time. That good. I doubt it will get rereleased just because it's not JJ's baby like RotRL was. It might be Wes's baby though I don't know if he is as attached to it as James is to Runelords.
Seven Days to the Grave though is the best AP issue of all time.
I'll also add a +1 for jade regent. Running it now and my players are in book 5 and loving it.
Some details below in the spoiler.
1 - Scrap Relationship System. The players were much more happy with free form RP with NPCs and working toward relationships as part of side scenes.
2 - My players enjoyed the caravan from a logistic perspective but the combat system never worked. Though once they got rings of sustenance and Sustaining Spoons they pretty much minimaxed the food system so it didn't matter.
3 - Players enjoy the 'bioware' feel of taking an NPC with them on fights. I have ended up giving them control over the NPCs for combat but I can override.
Book by Book:
Book 1 - Ran straight. Good book players really enjoyed getting to know the NPCs. I would highly suggest using the campaign traits.
Book 2 - Made a couple of minor tweaks to make it more a mystery and to give it less of a linear plot feel.
Got rid of the angelic helm that really felt like deus ex machina. Ended up using the Scarzni to communicate the non Tian info (when the gang showed up) and Suishen to fill in a lot of the rest.
Book 3 - Ran this pretty much straight. It can be a long slog but that is part of it. The characters are spending months traveling across a desolate and dangerous landscape. Part of this is the fact that their are days they will wake to find them snowed in, or the wind freezes them to the bone. You can mix the random encounters with good description and it makes the length feel right.
Changed the Yeti encounter to be less home invasion. Let the players meet a child yeti who was touch by Desna and let them help exorcise the chief. Players had been talking earlier about how so many fights felt like home invasions.
Book 4 - Ran the first part replaced the huge dungeon with Ruby Phoenix tournament. If I ran again I'd probably rewrite the book to let the players do more with the horse lords in the country in part 1, and rework the dungeon with something more Misaski like in part 2.
Book 5 & 6 - I can't comment on yet. As they are just into the first part of book 5.
|Prophet of Doom|
It is all kind of subjective. If you specify what you are looking for in an Adventure Path you would get a better answer. I've played Rune Lords, Jade Regent, Skull and Shackles, and just started Winter's Reign. They all have good thing to say about them. Rune Lords is or course the base line in what most people expect.
I'm going to actually play Devil's Advocate here.
Run Wrath of the Righteous. But leave Mythic out of it.
There is a larger amount of magic items in WotR than in other APs, so the lack of Mythic should not be that big a deal. In addition, there are several artifacts mentioned which, if used without Mythic, could give the players the edge they need when things get tough.
There will be a couple encounters you will have to nerf in Book 2, but if you don't use any of the active Mythic abilities of the monsters, you should likely have a challenging adventure that is truly Mythic in its own way.
(Alternatively, you could also allow Mythic but reduce the progression so that by the end of it, the players only have 5 Tiers. You could even include the Immortality with the 5th Tier so that the players have that extra survivability kick when dealing with Book 6.)
Well, after two weekends of people missing the game I'm going to put it to a vote next weekend.
When it comes to me it's going to come down to a group vote between Kingmaker and Jade Regent. I'm actually going to cast my vote for Curse of the Crimson Throne.
Polls (general feeling around the table) puts the votes thusly:
Jade Regent 1
Jade Regent or Kingmaker 1
Curse of the Crismon Throne 1
Two votes up in the air.
Another player has said that he is not opposed to running Reign of Winter.
Thank you guys for all of the input and advice. Although I will be voting for CotCT I would most likely rather run Jade Regent of the two others. I like the idea of trying to make the relationship system work somehow.
Now to make book 6 of CC a sufficiently exciting conclusion. :D
Best way to make the relationship system work is to not make it a system :) and honestly CotCT has better potential for NPC relationships anyway. Trinia, Cressidia, Blackjack, Laori. They are all more interesting characters than the JR companions (especially compared to Kolya and Sandru).
what? Sandru is a pimp.