The Toughest AP


Pathfinder Adventure Path General Discussion

1 to 50 of 103 << first < prev | 1 | 2 | 3 | next > last >>

1 person marked this as a favorite.

One of the things I like doing is having really tough combats, lethal traps, puzzles etc to force my players to really think, to come up with solutions that get them out of a jam. And, I'm interested in buying a new adventure path.

I've got Rise of the Runelords and Carrion Crown already. I even bought Carrion Hill just to tack onto Carrion Crown.

Can you guys suggest a AP that's seriously nasty? One that's responsible for a lot of character deaths. Anything but Runelords or CC. I don't want any Mythic rules either, so no Wrath of the Righteous.


4 people marked this as a favorite.

Well, if you're okay branching out from Pathfinder, Paizo's old Dungeon APs are all pretty nasty. Age of Worms is infamous for a very early encounter that's absolutely murderous.

You do have to modify a bit from 3.5, of course.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

Reign of winter perhaps?

Age of Worms i agree is naaaasty in difficulty at times.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

I think that the most difficult PF AP is the Carrion Crown and that's because it gives the players loot that is below WBL (while hitting with status effects all the time), keep in mind that the usual loot (for APs) is usually 1.5-2.0 x WBL.
I think that you can make a lot of the APs difficult by cutting the loot given to players to half (or more) and maybe either ban the crafting feats* or put them in the clock.

*actually just banning the craft wondrous items and craft magic arms and armor would be enough


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Carrion Crown can be pretty easy with the right group of PCs - you know there's going to be undead, and there are lots of characters who specialise in that.


I'd go with Kobold Cleaver's suggestion: take one of the Dungeon AP's, any one of them, convert them to PF (some.most.perhaps all 3 have already been done) and see how many tombstones your group plants in the ground. Bonus points for them if they complete it. Age of Worms can be especially nasty in this regard.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

Skull and Shackles,

the Fever Sea is overflowing with the corpses of the foolish:-)


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Slumbering Tsar as an obituary table included, if that tells you anything.


2 people marked this as a favorite.
eakratz wrote:
Slumbering Tsar as an obituary table included, if that tells you anything.

So does Rappan Athuk but aren't both of them megadungeon APs?


1 person marked this as a favorite.
leo1925 wrote:
eakratz wrote:
Slumbering Tsar as an obituary table included, if that tells you anything.
So does Rappan Athuk but aren't both of them megadungeon APs?

Slumbering Tsar goes from a sizable wilderness adventure to a sizable city exploration adventure to a sizable dungeon crawl.


Matt Filla wrote:
leo1925 wrote:
eakratz wrote:
Slumbering Tsar as an obituary table included, if that tells you anything.
So does Rappan Athuk but aren't both of them megadungeon APs?
Slumbering Tsar goes from a sizable wilderness adventure to a sizable city exploration adventure to a sizable dungeon crawl.

Weird, i have always heard it mentioned along with Rappan Athuk when people were discussing old megadungeon adventures.


leo1925 wrote:
Matt Filla wrote:
leo1925 wrote:
So does Rappan Athuk but aren't both of them megadungeon APs?
Slumbering Tsar goes from a sizable wilderness adventure to a sizable city exploration adventure to a sizable dungeon crawl.
Weird, i have always heard it mentioned along with Rappan Athuk when people were discussing old megadungeon adventures.

Oh, the dungeon which makes up the last part of the saga is mega indeed - 400+ rooms. But there is a lot more to Slumbering Tsar than that dungeon.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Guys, I wanted suggestions as to AP's, not old 3.5 dungeon adventures. So far, the only suggestion I can see is Reign of Winter and Skull & Shackles. Any other suggestions?


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

Iron Gods and Mummy's Mask can be pretty brutal, plus they're two of the best.

Giantslayer I hear is also pretty deadly but I can't tell you anything about it as I skipped that one.


4 people marked this as a favorite.

The old Dungeon adventures ARE AP's. That's where the term came from. Of the current crop, RoW and S&S are probably the nastiest.


3 people marked this as a favorite.

Age of Worms, Shackled City and Savage Tides are APs (much purer ones, in fact, since they run all the way from 1-20). I think you mean APs in the Pathfinder series.

EDIT: Ninja'd by Turin.


So far, I'm looking at Reign of Winter and Mummy's Mask.


So, what is the toughest Adventure Path?


Look at the obituary threads.


That doesn't necessarily help. Deaths can occur based on multiple causes, some of which may be house alterations.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Turin the Mad wrote:
The old Dungeon adventures ARE AP's. That's where the term came from. Of the current crop, RoW and S&S are probably the nastiest.

I insist on Carrion Crown, for added masochism maybe run it without a full divine class.


I already HAVE Carrion Crown. If the players don't have both a Cleric and a Paladin in that AP, I publicly call them morons!

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

We're managing OK with a cleric and a ranger with favored enemy (undead), at least so far. OTOH, we also have a dirge bard, which helps a lot. (Now, the fourth party member is a black blade magus, and if you want to knock us for the lack of a full arcane caster, I won't argue the point...unfortunately, our wizard has disappeared from the boards. Hazards of PbP.)


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

This is like his second or third time running it tho, the man needs more suggestions that aren't Carrion Crown:-)

He could probably run it in his sleep by now:-D

Silver Crusade

5 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

WotR without mythic rules for PCs is objectively the hardest AP.


captain yesterday wrote:

This is like his second or third time running it tho, the man needs more suggestions that aren't Carrion Crown:-)

He could probably run it in his sleep by now:-D

Yup. This has got to be at least the second time. Last time we got all the way through the 5th adventure, but quit when I found out the 6th was nothing but combat.

Anyway, I am thinking of saving the Runelords anniversary AP for a friend of mine who wants to learn how to run games. That's why I want a new AP, because I am tired of running Carrion Crown.


John Woodford wrote:
We're managing OK with a cleric and a ranger with favored enemy (undead), at least so far. OTOH, we also have a dirge bard, which helps a lot. (Now, the fourth party member is a black blade magus, and if you want to knock us for the lack of a full arcane caster, I won't argue the point...unfortunately, our wizard has disappeared from the boards. Hazards of PbP.)

Yup. Gotta knock you for having a Ranger when you could have had a Paladin who's mostly immune to things like lycanthropy and saving throws. Also a straight Wizard rocks in this AP because of the item creation feats, high knowledges and decent attack spells. Oh, and if your Cleric isn't worshipping Pharasma, he/she will miss out on the fantastic minor artifact weapon coming up....

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Piccolo wrote:
John Woodford wrote:
We're managing OK with a cleric and a ranger with favored enemy (undead), at least so far. OTOH, we also have a dirge bard, which helps a lot. (Now, the fourth party member is a black blade magus, and if you want to knock us for the lack of a full arcane caster, I won't argue the point...unfortunately, our wizard has disappeared from the boards. Hazards of PbP.)
Yup. Gotta knock you for having a Ranger when you could have had a Paladin who's mostly immune to things like lycanthropy and saving throws. Also a straight Wizard rocks in this AP because of the item creation feats, high knowledges and decent attack spells. Oh, and if your Cleric isn't worshipping Pharasma, he/she will miss out on the fantastic minor artifact weapon coming up....

I'll remember that, if/when my character buys it.


2 people marked this as a favorite.

This is a difficult thing to target. It depends entirely on several factors.

1) Are you willing to modify encounters, or running solely "as written"?
2) Are you modifying loot to fit the party?
3) Are the players a well oiled team of optimizers or a group of happy go lucky disparate throw togethers or completely new to the game?
4) 15 pt buy? 20? 25? random roll?
5) Core only? Paizo only? Paizo AND third party?

If you are going to modify encounters, literally any AP could be made difficult. If you aren't modifying loot, any AP could be more difficult for a party that builds around key items that aren't handed out. No AP is difficult for a good group... none of them... speed bumps here and there, sure... but difficult as a whole, nope. For less than optimal or new players any AP could be difficult. High rolls or point buys above 15 will make any AP easier. And the more rules options you hand the players the easier time a good group will have building.

But assuming defaults... as written, including loot, average players (not optimizers nor sub-optimal) with 15pt buy with Paizo product... no AP will rate as "seriously nasty". For something to meet that goal would require one of two things: A lot of extra work on the part of the DM to raise the level of the AP *OR* Characters built specifically to be not just sub-optimal, but also "fish out of water" where most of their class features and/or abilities do not help them. (example: an undead focused cleric, a maneuver focused fighter, a skirnir magus, and a buccaneer bard... none of them Dwarves or Gnomes... for Giantslayer)


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

These are my top choices
1. Iron Gods (the best AP f%+*ing ever, and I wasn't a big mix sci-fi with fantasy guy, so that's saying something!)

2. Skull and Shackles (we call our ship captains "Captain Red shirt" for a reason, quite deadly, don't worry about using ship to ship combat rules, they aren't necessary, also the module Peril and Plunder works as a more heroic stand in for book 2)

3. Reign of Winter (also quite deadly, and one of the best, also a great mix of fairy tale tropes)

4. Mummy's Mask, another wicked one, but quite similar to Carrion Crown (although with a more cohesive storyline)

5. Hell's Rebels (only first two books are out but it's shaping up to be a classic)


Darkbridger wrote:

This is a difficult thing to target. It depends entirely on several factors.

1) Are you willing to modify encounters, or running solely "as written"?
2) Are you modifying loot to fit the party?
3) Are the players a well oiled team of optimizers or a group of happy go lucky disparate throw togethers or completely new to the game?
4) 15 pt buy? 20? 25? random roll?
5) Core only? Paizo only? Paizo AND third party?

Okay. I tend to run encounters as written, but I like to replace treasure with something more appropriate for the PC's. For example, I replaced a Ring of Protection +1 with a Ring of Sustenance so the party Wizard could get by with only 2 hours sleep and thus have 6 more hours of item crafting time available starting at 5th level.... Note the value of the item hasn't changed much at all. I don't like upsetting WBL balance much.

The attribute rolls are randomly rolled. 4d6 take the best 3 results. Pretty standard, really.

I have quite a few Paizo books I am willing to use for PC's, but for the most part they use the core book, along with suggestions from me (from other books) once I learn what their concept is. I like to give them options.

2 players are completely new to the game, another is a rookie (but only for Pathfinder), and the final one is an old hand at gaming who mostly goes along with my suggestions since he knows I have his best interests at heart.


captain yesterday wrote:

These are my top choices

1. Iron Gods (the best AP f~@*ing ever, and I wasn't a big mix sci-fi with fantasy guy, so that's saying something!)

2. Skull and Shackles (we call our ship captains "Captain Red shirt" for a reason, quite deadly, don't worry about using ship to ship combat rules, they aren't necessary, also the module Peril and Plunder works as a more heroic stand in for book 2)

3. Reign of Winter (also quite deadly, and one of the best, also a great mix of fairy tale tropes)

4. Mummy's Mask, another wicked one, but quite similar to Carrion Crown (although with a more cohesive storyline)

5. Hell's Rebels (only first two books are out but it's shaping up to be a classic)

I hear Reign of Winter mixes a little SF in by introducing time travel to fighting WWI Russian soldiers. So far, I was looking at either Reign of Winter or Mummy's Mask.

Skull & Shackles I'd heard needs rules tweaking, but I forget what the details were.

Tell me more about Iron Gods?


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

Reign of Winter doesn't have time travel

:
Golarion's time line matches up to earth in 1918 when RoW takes place, and yes you do go to war-torn Russia

i'll get back to you on Iron Gods (unless someone else beats me to it) i just got busy, sorry!

but it is great and the Technology stuff matches up perfectly with the magic item system:-)

Dark Archive

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Iron Gods:

Several thousand years ago, the Rain of Stars occurred, in which something massive crashed from the heavens into the region known as Numeria in Avistan. As it happens, it was a spaceship, and most significant bit of wreckage from that spaceship became known as the Silver Mount. Though it was heavily damaged, the ship was still relatively intact, and the ship's AI was still functioning. To pass the time, it created intricately complex simulations of worlds, and continually versioned new ones into being. Over time, these simulated worlds began worshiping the AI as their creator, and it found it actually had divine powers. It now seeks to escape the Silver Mount and gain dominion over all of Golarion. Can your party defeat a literal god in the machine?


Piccolo wrote:
Darkbridger wrote:

This is a difficult thing to target. It depends entirely on several factors.

1) Are you willing to modify encounters, or running solely "as written"?
2) Are you modifying loot to fit the party?
3) Are the players a well oiled team of optimizers or a group of happy go lucky disparate throw togethers or completely new to the game?
4) 15 pt buy? 20? 25? random roll?
5) Core only? Paizo only? Paizo AND third party?

Okay. I tend to run encounters as written, but I like to replace treasure with something more appropriate for the PC's. For example, I replaced a Ring of Protection +1 with a Ring of Sustenance so the party Wizard could get by with only 2 hours sleep and thus have 6 more hours of item crafting time available starting at 5th level.... Note the value of the item hasn't changed much at all. I don't like upsetting WBL balance much.

The attribute rolls are randomly rolled. 4d6 take the best 3 results. Pretty standard, really.

I have quite a few Paizo books I am willing to use for PC's, but for the most part they use the core book, along with suggestions from me (from other books) once I learn what their concept is. I like to give them options.

2 players are completely new to the game, another is a rookie (but only for Pathfinder), and the final one is an old hand at gaming who mostly goes along with my suggestions since he knows I have his best interests at heart.

That all sounds decidedly average (most people do adjust loot). Of course, if they all got lucky with their stat rolls, you may have 30+pt buy equivalents running around. But if that's not the case, my observation stands. No AP will meet the "seriously nasty" goal post without a fair bit of work from your end. Paizo isn't in the business of making APs that have a significant change of killing off entire parties. Challenging sure, but if your group as described is steamrolling APs or floating through them risk-free, there must be something else at play... higher stats, great rolls/weighted dice, excellent party tactics/communication, your suggestions are making them too good... something is giving them an edge beyond the baseline. Whatever it is, it's only going to be countered by additional work on the DM side of the screen.


Actually, my players are sweating out a lot of the encounters, but make it through fairly well, even if they are nervous about it.

The two more experienced gamers are running the primary spellcasters (Cleric and Wizard). I convinced them to do so because they're the only ones who might know what they're doing, and they have the core rulebook to look up spells unlike the other two.

My suggestions go as far as discussing feat/trait selections with them, and making recommendations once I know what they want to do. Gameplay is totally up to them, however. During the game, I like to play devil's advocate and suggest effective but ultimately terrible ideas, like chucking Fireballs at the least provocation. Sometimes they even take me up on it!

I think I'm going to ignore the AP's suggestions as to NPC combat tips, and just use them to pound the heck out of my PC's, focusing on one of them at a time so as to bring them close to death.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

We roll, our group for Iron Gods we have a 64 point equivalent Fighter, 37 point Rogue, 24 point Oracle and 20 point Diviner, having the lower point equivalent characters being the Spell casters helps balance things out, plus the tech encourages longer adventuring days (a Wizard with a handful of grenades in his backpack doesn't care so much if he runs out of Shocking Grasp:-D)


Piccolo wrote:

Actually, my players are sweating out a lot of the encounters, but make it through fairly well, even if they are nervous about it.

...

I think I'm going to ignore the AP's suggestions as to NPC combat tips, and just use them to pound the heck out of my PC's, focusing on one of them at a time so as to bring them close to death.

This is starting to sound a bit adversarial. Remember, hit point loss is not at all a measure of difficulty. The key is whether your group is expending the expected amount of resources per fight. Are their adventuring days longer than expected?

If they're using all their resources across an expected number of encounters and then seek out respite, then things are normal. If every fight ends in one or more critically injured characters you aren't going to help your cause, you're only going to force them to shorten their adventuring day and retreat from the adventure more often. This is key for the cleric, if he's burning spells for buffs instead of healing and this keeps the party safer/less injured, I don't imagine there is a problem.

Also, are the players complaining the game is too easy? Why the desire for "seriously nasty"? If you go down this road and the players are not looking for ramped up difficulty, your players' fun is going to take a significant hit. I'd be particularly worried about the complete novices.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

It's just how Piccolo comes across, I'm sure he's not trying to be adversarial :-)


From personal experience, Skull and Shackles. I've ran it 3 times up through most of book 4. I've killed multiple PC's in books 2 and 3. Both in the same fights. I also give big name enemies 1 trait, they always seem to have problems with the casters.


What "theme" are the players interested in, Piccolo? Pick one of the ones that interests you that matches closest to something they've expressed interest in. Sometimes off-hand comments about "cool movies we've seen" can stand in for expressed interests. ;)


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens Subscriber

I'v played a few but Giantslayer seems to be the most deadly by far.


captain yesterday wrote:
It's just how Piccolo comes across, I'm sure he's not trying to be adversarial :-)

No, no... I mean adversarial between him and his players. :)


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

That's also what I meant. :-)


captain yesterday wrote:
It's just how Piccolo comes across, I'm sure he's not trying to be adversarial :-)

I'm the DM, I'm *supposed* to be the bad guys! When we aren't playing, I tell them honestly tips on their gameplay so as to improve it, advice on character builds etc. But when I'm actually running the game, I have to be as nasty as I can with what the AP gives me, that's my job!

I will ask the players what they think where theme is concerned. I know the veteran wants to fight giants, but I don't know if he wants an entire AP focused on them (Giantslayer).

Okay, so it's down to Giantslayer, Skull & Shackles, Reign of Winter, or Mummy's Mask. Iron Gods might be too techy for their tastes. Besides, if I want to go that route, Reign of Winter already has some genre crossing with the PC's fighting Russian WWI soldiers.

Why is Mummy's Mask similar to Carrion Crown?


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

Theme mostly, Mummies and gothic horror have a lot of cross-over:-D

Honestly for me Mummy's Mask is far superior to Carrion Crown as far as story coherence and tying stuff together.

If you want a good idea of what Mummy's Mask is, watch The Mummy or read the old pulp stories from back in the day. it does get criticism for building too slowly for some people, i'm not one of those people, but something to keep in mind:-)

but yeah if you love the them and genre give it a look, at the very least download the player's guide and see if it's something you might like:-)


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens Subscriber
Piccolo wrote:
captain yesterday wrote:
It's just how Piccolo comes across, I'm sure he's not trying to be adversarial :-)

I'm the DM, I'm *supposed* to be the bad guys! When we aren't playing, I tell them honestly tips on their gameplay so as to improve it, advice on character builds etc. But when I'm actually running the game, I have to be as nasty as I can with what the AP gives me, that's my job!

I will ask the players what they think where theme is concerned. I know the veteran wants to fight giants, but I don't know if he wants an entire AP focused on them (Giantslayer).

Okay, so it's down to Giantslayer, Skull & Shackles, Reign of Winter, or Mummy's Mask. Iron Gods might be too techy for their tastes. Besides, if I want to go that route, Reign of Winter already has some genre crossing with the PC's fighting Russian WWI soldiers.

Why is Mummy's Mask similar to Carrion Crown?

Giantslayer is not about giants only. Far from it. It shows surprising variety. Of course, the big battles are against giants, but the AP is not a giant slaughterfest...


Players' Guides can be very helpful, especially once you figure out how to read between the lines. Sometimes the hints of things to come are nearly in your face ... other times, there might only be one hint.

The back promo blurbs for each chapter are the other source of consideration on the free. Peruse all of them for an AP in combination with that AP's PG to get a decent summary of what the AP is. If you're down to a tie, peruse some of the campaign journals.

If your group would handle a sandbox that you'd be happy fiddling with for extended periods, Kingmaker is the way to go. Forewarning: you WILL have to tailor it to your group as KM, while a complete AP, needs tailoring to suit the characters and yourself. It could easily have been expanded into a 12+ chapter campaign IMO.

Based on the comments I've read since publication, I'm rather regretting not having gotten in on the action for Mummy's Mask and Iron Gods. At the times of release, neither appealed to me as either GM or player. Giantslayer does, since it promises to make red stains on the pavement of many PCs if I pooch things or my trusty Cthulhu dice perform their sudden but inevitable betrayals that my players loved so much.

Whatever you choose, have fun!


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Piccolo wrote:
But when I'm actually running the game, I have to be as nasty as I can with what the AP gives me, that's my job!

Not surprisingly, I differ a little on this. I feel it's the DM's job to make the game fun. Maybe that means be nasty, but if the DM is nasty all the time and every fight ends with one or more nearly dead characters, exhaustion tends to set in rather rapidly. And the more the game pushes in that direction, the more the players will tend to drift toward a one-ups-manship approach to the game. Some tables like this approach... they like the challenge and the arms race. But some folks just want to escape the stress of a job, kids, or countless other real-life concerns and not have to worry excessively about their survival every time initiative is rolled.

If a DM is making decisions for the monsters based on their DM knowledge of the characters rather than playing the enemy based on their own motivations and knowledge, they risk stepping over the adversarial line. Some encounters are meant to be comedic, some are meant to make the characters feel powerful/untouchable, some are meant to force the group to think about what they're doing and/or why they're doing it, and some encounters might require the party to sacrifice or risk their own well being for the protection of something or someone else.

You know your group better than the rest of us, and hopefully you're actually aiming at something a little less extreme than I'm imagining. Again, it's the novices I worry about... don't "nasty" them right away from the game... the hobby can't afford failed new bloods. :(

Would be really interested to hear what you pick and how it plays out for your group.


Rogar Valertis wrote:

Giantslayer is not about giants only. Far from it. It shows surprising variety. Of course, the big battles are against giants, but the AP is not a giant slaughterfest...

I remember Fort Rannick in another AP being an ogre slaughterfest...

Clearing out an entire fort overrun by ogres. There were alot of them.

I didn't think RoW was too difficult up until book 3, when we had to explore that dungeon. There were some really nasty things in that dungeon... In comparison, book 4 has actually been rather easy thus far.

S&S has a reputation for having pretty decent odds of killing off characters in the very first encounter. Still in the first book for this one, and I'd say it's been a harder first book than RotRL or RoW APs.

1 to 50 of 103 << first < prev | 1 | 2 | 3 | next > last >>
Community / Forums / Pathfinder / Pathfinder Adventure Path / General Discussion / The Toughest AP All Messageboards

Want to post a reply? Sign in.