I have been playing PF since January and just finished RotRL (as the GM). My group consists of four members who enjoy a healthy balance of character development along with the mandatory combat, with an emphasis on enjoying exploring new settings. They don't like getting bogged down with excessive rules or spend too much time character hoarding/powering up. They enjoy building relationships with NPCs.
What's the next AP I should invest in? I don't have a ton of other books (Core (duh), Best I & II, Ult Equip, Inner Sea Guide), but would be willing to purchase more if crucial to the AP.
I have enjoyed running PF because I like the material provided in RotRL (personalities of NPCs and monsters, combat tactics, visuals). It gave me enough to run the game as I saw fit without number-crunching and starting from scratch. RotRL was a little too constricting at times (or maybe too linear), but there were enough bits to riff off of. I know APs are limiting in this regard, but I am just not able to commit the time to creating whole new storylines around gazetteer-like material.
It's tough to just tell you when the answer is "just about any AP". If you search around you can find threads about people's favotie APs by list. Rise of the Runelords is undoubtedly Pathfinder's "Star" AP. Other APs that have extreme praise are Skull & Shackles, Reign of Winter, and Iron Gods. This isn't to say the other AP's aren't good, those ones are simply the most popular as I recall.
Would you be able to be more specific what sort of setting your group might be looking for? For example, if they feel Varisia'd out, you wouldn't want to run Curse of the Crimson Throne, Second Darkness, or Shattered Star, for example. Of course if Rise intrigued them, those APs could be very suitable as follow-ups (though Curse and Darkness are both written using 3.5 rules, and would require some conversion which can be found on these forums).
I have recently begun looking at feedback about various APs, but nothing jumped out at me as being ideal for my group. I will probably avoid any 3.5 APs for the near future (holding out hope of an eventual RotRL-like compilation despite evidence to the contrary?) I know people have their preferences, and I can probably modify anything to fit gaming style, but I have heard some APs are just more "fighty" and more structured than others. Also, it seems hard to find a storyline that captivates for six full chapters, especially when people say some of the chapters don't connect particularly well to previous ones.
Thanks for the feedback. What are you favs?
Well if you just did Rise of the Runelords you could start building up to Shattered Star by running Curse of the Crimson Throne. You can also go for Second Darkness and Jade Regent but Curse of the Crimson Throne has more of an impact on Shattered Star. I know I've had fun referencing the events caused by old PCs.
If I would recommend any AP in a vacuum it would be Carrion Crown. It has some elements shared with Rise of the Runelords but more of a Horror slant with lots of tropes to play with. It also has a ton of social opportunities and can be very fun when run off the rails.
I've found that if you have players that intend to go off the rails, no adventure path is built to handle that. If someone (or even the entire group) wants to disrupt the campaign or needs serious monetary incentive to actually go through the AP, it's not difficult for the written material to quickly fall short. Adventure Paths typically work under the assumption of "These are heroes in the making, and are willing to make the sacrifices or are at least curious/power hungry enough to investigate and follow through on X, Y, Z."
The exception is possibly Skull & Shackles or Kingmaker, which are the two most freeform, sandboxy APs.
My players have no problem taking on the role of heroes and following the course of the story, but I do want them to feel like they have choices. Mostly, I just want to use an AP that others have enjoyed using because of exciting locations and good story elements. You hav been helpful.
Try your hand at making one up as you go. Warn your players that you're doing so [so they understand that you may make a few mistakes here or there, but that they're getting a unique experience in exchange] and give it your best shot.
It helps to have an 'assistant' of sorts take notes during each session and hand them to you afterwards.
Kingmaker is a great adventure path, although because of the sandboxy nature of it you may want to read all six books before you get going...which is a bit of an investment if you don't already know somebody with copies on hand.
I haven't run it, but I did read through the books in preparation to potentially run it. I feel like the quality of the story the players get is really on the GM with Kingmaker.
I also haven't gotten around to purchasing them yet but Legendary Games has a couple of plug in adventure modules to further flesh out the Kingmaker AP and help tie together the story that dedicated 3PP reviewer Endzeitgeist rated highly.
If anybody has a yea or nay on those I'd love to know.
With or without those, if you want a world that's pre-visualized and stat blocked out but one you can make your own, that's something to look into.
A good idea might be to poll your players on what sort of AP they would be most interested to play in, perhaps from a thematic view? The main APs I know of that have weak links between their individual modules are Serpent's Skull (whose third module onward suffers from an admitted lack of deadline adherence, though the first module is considered one of the best), and Carrion Crown (which is by some considered to be best as 6 separate modules visiting the various horror themes inherent in Ustalav).
For my groups, I like to show them this page to help decide what our next AP will be. It provides decent summaries of the paths without giving too much away.
|Captain Yesterday, Not a Borg|
Kingmaker is also my recommendation. Players most definitely have more sway over the story they want to create. If you are worried about bogging down with rules, go over kingdom building with them and ask if they want to either do the kingdom in the background option or else do kingdom building on off days with those players who want to actively build the kingdom and learn the rules. My players have absolutely loved Kingmaker and not being railroaded.
I really liked skull and shackles when it came to interacting with npc's.
If they don't want to get bogged down with their personal character development nor excessive rules I'd stay away from kingmaker and wrath of the righteous. They are both fun campaigns, but both have additional rule systems that you need to learn (or handwave away).