Why no love for Giantslayer?


Giantslayer

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I'm considering GMing Giantslayer for a new party after we've done a one shot to get used to the rules. The players are in to classic LotR style fantasy type stuff and I think it puts an interesting twist on that by essentially starting them in an outpost behind enemy lines rather than in a sleepy woodland town.

The problem is that I don't see much love for it when I'm reading forums for reviews. Is there something inherently wrong with the AP, is it because it's still relatively new, or is it backlash for traditional fantasy after Paizo did something so out there with Iron Gods?

I'm listening to the Glass Cannon podcast, and {spoiler=spoiler}I've just caught up to part way through the keelboat section (They're about to stop off at the first trading post) I quite like the flavour of taking a river boat ride without committing to a full on pirate AP.[/spoiler] The way they are playing the AP is really making me want to run it.

Does it get a lot worse after that?


Pathfinder Companion, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Well, I have 2 groups running through this now (use square brackets for spoilers).

Sunday Group of Newbies:

Location:
My newbies are just about to meet up with Ingrahild in the Ghostlight Marsh.
We play infrequently, and only typically 2 hours at a time. This is a low role-playing group since they are young (except my 29 forever wife) and really don't understand the concept yet. They are having a blast, and so am I.

Saturday Group of Experienced Players:

Location:
These guys are in the middle of the siege on Trunau, and should make it to (maybe through) the gate at L12 this Saturday.
We typically play weekly, and for 6-8 hours at a time, but lately we've had a lot of life get in the way. I expect them to overtake my Saturday group within the next month. I think these guys like this as much (or more) than the usual Saturday campaign Mummy's Mask (the main skills player in on business and out for 2 more months, so we switched as an interim).

Overall, while I agree with many of the posts regarding the logic flaws in book 1, I think it is on the GM to figure out a way around them. I also think it is not a difficult task. I found book 1 to be extremely entertaining, and very challenging for the players. Book 2, so far, is a lot of fun. I have been copying several of the ideas from the guys over at Order of the Amber Die, too, which really adds to the experience.

I've read that books 3 and 4 are meh, but I've not dug into them deeply yet so I cannot comment. I will find out soon enough.

Oh, podcast #43 had me in tears.


What are the logic flaws?

Spoiler:
I've heard that there's some issues with the town guard being absent during what seem to be key points during the siege. And something about the orcs being able to attack so easily given Trunau's strategic position, but nothing that can't be explained away relatively easily.


Pathfinder Companion, Maps Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Check this thread.


SMNGRM wrote:
The problem is that I don't see much love for it when I'm reading forums for reviews. Is there something inherently wrong with the AP, is it because it's still relatively new, or is it backlash for traditional fantasy after Paizo did something so out there with Iron Gods?

It's solid. I guess very few people will call it 'best AP ever', but that's partially due to the strong competition.

We played through the first two books (with some modifications) and had a lot of fun. I skipped book 3 in favor of something which felt more fitting to the story:

Spoiler:
A true siege of Trunau!

But book 3 reads good, it should be as much as fun as the first two. The same seems to be true for book 4, I am looking forward to play this one. Book 5 has quite generic encounters, with some work it might become great though. I find it difficult to judge book 6 yet, at least the end is interesting.

If you need further opinions, check out the reviews at the books on the regular page. In forums complaining people are more vocal than content ones - that's human.


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I'm going to say I have big issues with the storyline.

You start in Belkzen, but Orcs are only there until you are high enough level for giants. So knowing you start with stabbing orcs you need to actually be motivated to stab giants.

From Book 3 on this should be a campaign about armies. It seems like the obvious course of action would to be rally Lastwall, Nirmathas, Janderhoff, and possibly Korvosa, Ustalav, and even Nidal against the giant armies. However, I haven't noticed the path even mentioning that as a possibility. You just go from location to location beating in faces without dealing with the world around you (as far as I have found, which may be in error).

Also, Book 6 is terrible. A totally static castle you can blow up ten minutes into the adventure, that makes it difficult to come and go and doesn't make you feel the heat of the fact this is supposed to be an invading army.

It isn't, like, unplayable or anything. But there are 18-20 APs now, and given the issues this isn't going to be anywhere near the top of my "to run" pile.

Scarab Sages

My main problem "with" Giantslayer is that my players had a lot of life issues crop up. One player's wife got pregnant, another couple had their best friend move in and she was about to give birth. It's got so hectic that we simply haven't been able to play. Probably won't be able to for quite some time. When it settles down we'll try to give Giantslayer a go 'though.


Running it right now, in book 2. Honestly, book 1 (Battle of Bloodmarch Hill) suffers from being too good of a story.

Specifically, its a great "story" but not all stories make great "adventures". It is entirely possible for a group to potentially play through the entirety of Book 1 in two in-game days, technically reaching level 4 in 48 hours.

But wait, you say, most groups would be killed by the constant barrage of encounters! And you would be right. The problem is that the "story" sets that pace (investigate murder, small dungeon, seige, another dungeon), and it takes effort to splice time BACK into the adventure. It basically feels like the pace of an AP finale, except its a prologue and level 1-3 characters rarely have that kind of staying power.

It also suffers from too many "background events" that aren't explicitly called out and lead plot-holes without them. Such as:

Middle Ward:
How did the orcs get into middle ward, the outriders get out, and the gate shut? If the outriders left the ward first, gate shut, no orcs. If the orcs got in first, outriders fight them, no orcs. The answer is in the loot pile: two grappling hooks, ropes, and climbers kits. The standalone tower (where the sub-boss hangs out) is easily approachable. Saboteurs could help climbers get on it, and then strike out into middle ward, after the outriders already passed through and the gate was shut.

This, and a few other events, aren't spelled out very clearly, which can make some of the events just seem strange if players notice those sorts of details. Some do, some don't.

Book 2 suffers from some motivational issues. Again, some things are just kind of missed or too gently implied.

Motivation:
Halgra sends you off to kill the hill giant so she doesn't attack again looking for the rock and hammer. There should be a mention made of possibly taking the rock and hammer to the giant; if she gets what she wants, she stops bothering Trunau. That said, Trunau is an fiercely independent, self-sustaining town that has a dim view of its neighbors due to history. While its leaders would probably not be to concerned what a giant 120 miles away would do with the items, there would be a bit of a desire to "punch back" via the PCs. Another way to help spur this is to have Skreed, in his fight with PCs, talk about how even if he dies, Trunau's reputation as impregnable dies as well. Then the revenge elements can also play into restoring the "Thou Shalt Not Mess With Trunau" reputation.

Can't comment past that, but honestly, having run most of the APs for my various groups, Giantslayer is solid. So far, I've found its the quality of the group and their investment that determines the quality.
Mummy's Mask is currently our "highest rated", followed by Reign of Winter. Kingmaker sits in the bottom (which is not to say its bad, by bottom I mean B+) mostly due to half the party being uninteresting in Kingdom building.

Overall, Giantslayer is a very robust base to build a great campaign off of, but it does need a bit of "tidying up" in a few places. Players who dislike "grinding" may become tired with the repetition of giants (and orcs in the early levels) through it, but it should be a given by the title you'll be fighting a lot of them.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I think book 1 is one of the strongest intros to an AP. Most PCs won't notice the plot holes. The biggest downside is the hectic pacing that low level characters won't be able to keep up with.

Books 3 and 4 suffer from being very similar. If I was to do it over again I would replace book 3 with something similar to:

Previous AP plot:
the giant attack from RotRL

My PCs had issues with what the goal of part 3 was and why that would work.


I love Giantslayer...*MWAH* (runs away giggling)

Silver Crusade

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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Book 5 is the most mind-numbing hack and slash crawl in Paizo's history.

Overall, it's not a bad AP, it's just so ... unremarkable. And if you're sharing the shelf with RotRL, CotCT, Kingmaker, Iron Gods, RoW or Hell's Rebels ... you better be remarkable.


I just put a bag over book 5.


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I haven't played it, but honestly, it just doesn't look appealing to me.

1)Honestly, after playing Rise of the Runelords, I'm pretty Gianted-out. Later books of Runelords are chocked full of giants, so a full AP of Runelords book 4 just seems...tedious.

2)Even reading the quick summaries of adventures, the premises aren't really promising. Each book seems to be "next tier of giant" in theme from description. One book Stone giants, one book Ice giants, one book Fire giants, etc. Again, haven't played it, but that's the impression from the short descriptions.

3)Bait and Switch setting. Like Mort mentioned above, set in Belkzen, I was really hopping for orcs! When the AP was announced as a Belkzen setting with a "returning to the roots of tabletop RPGs feel, I was super excited for a Warcraft-esqe AP, fighting against the war machine that is the hordes of Belkzen. Instead, we were given more giants... I go back to comment 1 about Runelords.


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Pathfinder Companion, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Lord Twitchiopolis wrote:

2)Even reading the quick summaries of adventures, the premises aren't really promising. Each book seems to be "next tier of giant" in theme from description. One book Stone giants, one book Ice giants, one book Fire giants, etc. Again, haven't played it, but that's the impression from the short descriptions.

3)Bait and Switch setting. Like Mort mentioned above, set in Belkzen, I was really hopping for orcs! When the AP was announced as a Belkzen setting with a "returning to the roots of tabletop RPGs feel, I was super excited for a Warcraft-esqe AP, fighting against the war machine that is the hordes of Belkzen. Instead, we were given more giants... I go back to comment 1 about Runelords.

As for #2, this is intentional. It is, for better or worse, an ode to the Against the Giants series, which really is the roots of tabletop gaming, so one can't really complain that it's a progressive giant battle. Well, you can, since it is a subjective argument, but that's kinda unfair as a criteria for judgment when that's really the entire purpose of the AP.

As for #3, I'd hardly call this bait and switch. It is called Giantslayer, afterall, not Orcslayer, an the first and second books are heavy on orc encounters anyway. Being on the edge of the Mindspin Mountains sorta fits the whole giant theme, IMO. Is there a more appropriate giant setting? I dunno, since I haven't really dug into where giants would be otherwise.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to defend to the death that this is the greatest AP of all time, and certainly my experience is rather limited in terms of AP gaming. It just seems like some of the "cons" aren't really all that "con" to me. Also, I have not played RotRL, and quite frankly, haven't even looked at giants since Against the Giants oh so many years ago.


taks wrote:

As for #3, I'd hardly call this bait and switch. It is called Giantslayer, afterall, not Orcslayer, an the first and second books are heavy on orc encounters anyway. Being on the edge of the Mindspin Mountains sorta fits the whole giant theme, IMO. Is there a more appropriate giant setting? I dunno, since I haven't really dug into where giants would be otherwise.

I was referring to the pre release stage.

When they annonced the concept of the next AP, they didn't give us the title or the giantslaying theme; just the setting.
We were given that "The next AP will take place in the Holds of Belkzen and be a back-to-basics type AP" (as oppose to the hyper specialized settings prior to it, such as Skull and Shackles, Iron Gods, Reign of Winter, and Mummy's Mask).
Then, when the title was announced, those of use who played RotRL groaned.

If you haven't played RotRL, then I suppose that a giant slaying AP is a pretty sweet gig.
It *was* fun in RotRL, after all.
It's just after playing RotRL, the "fight all the giants" gimmick was pretty worn through.
We were looking for something a little different.
An AP set in Belkzen had us excited: Orcs must die! Dwarven Sky Citadels! Kasavon and Tar barphon influences!
In the end, it was more giants.

I'm not saying that Giantslayer is *bad*.
Not having played it, I can't say that at all.
I am saying that for those of us who have played through RotRL, it's rather unappealing.

If my gaming group said "We're playing Giantslayer next," an unlikely prospect given that we played RotRL and my sentiments are echoed in the group, well, I've already rolled upcharacters.
However, if we were voting, my vote would be for any AP but it.


Pathfinder Companion, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Totally understandable.

I'm an oddity... my buddy had been bugging me to play for years (over a decde) and finally got me to commit to his homebrew "fight of the week" occasionally, a few years ago. We ended up playing Kingmaker (13 PCs, a disaster, as I'm sure you'd guess) till last May and had a break that required a sub-GM. I volunteered, then fell in love.

Anyway, after hunting around for a long-term adventure, I found the AP line and was totally hooked, except I needed something more recent, which led to GS and MM. Hence, my experience w.r.t. APs is limited, so I did not get your original context. Apologies if I seemed combative, it was not my intention.

Oh, I'm not new, since my first experience was around 1980 or so, just new to PF and APs... An expensive hobby, oddly.


Pathfinder Companion, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Context makes the discussion interesting. I had no idea RotRL was giantish.

Liberty's Edge

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Most of the Paizo APs are littered with plot cohesion issues and logic flaws. It's the inevitable result of the 15-18 level spread of content that's split up across multiple authors. Even the flagship AP Rise of the Runelords has very poor consistent narrative if it's run strictly by the books.

I haven't actually played it but the biggest complaints that I've heard from the folks that I know that are playing and/or DMing it is that the metaplot isn't very interesting or engaging. Most of the other Paizo AP's have some greater theme that's compelling enough to keep players interested. Giantslayer was touted as an 'old school' AP. It sounds like like, in this case, old school may come off as bland.


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Paizo Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Lord Twitchiopolis wrote:
3)Bait and Switch setting. Like Mort mentioned above, set in Belkzen, I was really hopping for orcs! When the AP was announced as a Belkzen setting with a "returning to the roots of tabletop RPGs feel, I was super excited for a Warcraft-esqe AP, fighting against the war machine that is the hordes of Belkzen. Instead, we were given more giants... I go back to comment 1 about Runelords.

Well I think you can't really call it a bait-and-switch and wonder about the giants. It's called "Giantslayer" after all. It was always obvious this is a giant-heavy campaign. Orcs only come in because you need something to get the character into the level reange where they can fight some actual giants. If you were expecting a campaign dealing mainly in orcs, that is your own fault, not Paizo's.

RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 32

I'm never going to call this the best AP ever, that's true.
However, I will say that it is a good start, in my opinion, to introduce new players to the system (which is what I'm using it for).
Each encounter is, relatively speaking, straightforward, and while some of the plot might seem forced, contrived or weird to you as the Game Master, I've yet to have any of the players go along the lines of:
"Hey, you know those Giants, how did they get in here in the first place?" or anything like that. They're pretty happy to go with the flow.

However, I do think that more experienced players would be likely to ask questions about some of the things that happen in the AP. So if you're group is new to medium experienced, then you'll be OK. With a bunch of experienced players you'd better be prepared for some questions. (With truly jaded players or min-maxers, I think I'd go for a different AP altogether).


Hmm, given an usual impression seems to be 'it's all about giant slaying' and I don't feel this when reading, I did some statistics. I counted 'giant encounters' (CR mostly / completely spent on humanoid (giant) creatures) and divided them by the number of total encounters. If the CR is distributed roughly equal among giant and nongiant (e.g. hill giant and his cave bear), I count it as half 'giant encounter'.

Here come the ratios of 'giant encounters' for each book and some comments:

Spoiler:

Book 1: ~7%
Book 2: ~25%, and only at part 3
Book 3: ~54%, none at the begin, but a lot (not all) at the end
Book 4: ~44%, becomes ~50% if you count sentinent undead giants as giants
Book 5: ~78%
Book 6: ~44%

Maybe I miscounted slightly, maybe I could have counted in another way - but the overall impression should be correct. So, judge yourself.

For players a focus on giants can be good or bad - one might consider it dull (despite Paizo's efforts to show a lot of variety), another one might enjoy specializing his character on giant hunt.

Liberty's Edge

Another thing to throw into the mix is that, speaking just on behalf of my tabletop group, this AP is really not much of a challenge. We are about half way through book 3 and I can't really recall a difficult encounter beyond one in the first book.


Pathfinder Companion, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Are you the GM, JamZilla, or just a player?
I think it all depends upon how the various encounters are handled. Book 2 is certainly easier than book 1, so far, but a few areas can be devastating in either.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

As a GM it is a fairly easy AP for PCs as giants are pretty simple creatures. The AP also falls victim to trying to throw multiple lower CR creatures at PCs for encounters. That part is easily fixable if you don't care about XP, which I don't use.

Liberty's Edge

Player. First time in a good while too, I'm usually the GM.

We are an experienced group with sound tactics but with minimal optimisation (two of the group have deliberately started taking sub-optimal options) and so far we have been pretty dominant.

The combination of poor reflex and will saves of giants is a particular problem generally speaking.


Pathfinder Companion, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

I just got done figuring out all the XP through book 2 (I have Excel workbooks for just about everything as a handy reference to track progress). Doing so is also a brush-up since I haven't read the last part in several months. I also read into the first part of book 3.

I don't think the last part of book 2 will be difficult, even though it is a rather long haul that pushes them almost to 8th level (which is countered by a very, very short first part of book 3, to reach 8th).

Yes, I'm playing hookie today. :)


I'm currently running this for a very experienced group who bailed on Iron Gods (which I really dig, but anyhow...) and bought me the first few books (they really wanted to play it). It's a different sort of PF experience in that Rocket Tag™ begins immediately. It is a very, very violent AP with about 9 deaths so far (and many, "near deaths"). For reference, we play with 15-point builds, all Paizo materials allowed except Summoners and Leadership (mainly to keep everyone's action economy about equal). My online Jade Regent game as a point of reference is nearing completion of book 6 and has seen 6 deaths (4 of which are from the same player who has struggled mightily to play a frontline character). Both groups consist of players who have played since the late 70s early 80s (there is one newer player in the online group).

So far, I feel that Book 1 and 2 are fine. My group really enjoyed them. Book 3 seems horribly flawed, but we're soldering on. The foes in the AP so far are horribly susceptible to REF & WILL save sorts of builds so your casters (if they can stay safe) will have fun. It is really rough on the dudes who are happiest wading into HtH since most enemies hit incredibly hard. My group really digs the challenge and are having a lot of fun in spite of how many times some of them have died. So, for the right group, it's probably going to deliver for you. It's certainly not for the feint of heart or those who're looking to solve mysteries and the like.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Scadgrad... I have seen the same results as you; giants only have one tool but they do it well. For any group that likes to mix it up in melee this AP will be tougher. For groups that prefer ranged combat and magic, this AP will be very easy.


Pathfinder Companion, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

My Sunday group falls into the well-balanced category with a witch, a druid, a ranger, and an investigator, with only 1 melee character (fighter). I think once we get into the more giant-ish parts (particularly now that they understand the rules better), they're going to start cleaning house with relative ease. I realized this when I was reading through Redlake Fort...

My Saturday group is heavy melee. They WANT BATTLE!!! They're feeling it, too, even in the first book, with orcs that simply don't drop. They're going to have fun (granted, I've scaled their encounters quite heavily, so the comparison is not as fair here).

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber

Yeah, unfortunately for me I went ahead and told my group what they would need to make it relatively easy on them. I guess it was a good idea since they were new but they have had a relatively tame go of it so far.

"You probably wouldn't go wrong with a mesmerist or enchanter."

"Giants have terrible reflex saves and touch AC's. An alchemist would do really well."

"Reach weapons, ranged weapons or at least mobility fighters are the way to go."

As a DM I struggle to make the main villain or the threat posed relevant. The first time I was ever really able to strike home the giant threat was last session in book 3 (shinnerman's fortune).

They certainly couldn't care less about the villain or even remember his name.

I kinda wished I would have grounded them more / Did some pre-game stuff to better re-enforce the danger to the region... or at the very least established why each individual character hated giants so much. That at least would have given some motivation for the campaign.

Overall I would say Giantslayer is fine... There were just other things I would have rather run.

Shadow Lodge

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Quote:
The problem is that I don't see much love for it when I'm reading forums for reviews. Is there something inherently wrong with the AP, is it because it's still relatively new, or is it backlash for traditional fantasy after Paizo did something so out there with Iron Gods?
Gorbacz wrote:
Overall, it's not a bad AP, it's just so ... unremarkable. And if you're sharing the shelf with RotRL, CotCT, Kingmaker, Iron Gods, RoW or Hell's Rebels ... you better be remarkable.

This is the reason for me.

Giantslayer just... bores me. When looking at the options of which AP to run, I have a lot of really cool scenarios that I can throw at my PCs. Kingmaker let them build their own kingdom and pitted them against powerful fey and political trials. Savage Tide involved demons and pirates and ancient civilizations and bizarre magic. Age of Worms is a Zombie Apocalypse waiting to happen. Curse of the Crimson Throne is a classic blockbuster with extremely memorable characters from beginning to end. Legacy of Fire is a romp through Arabian Nights by way of Ray Harryhausen. Iron Gods mixes tech and fantasy, which speaks immensely to my personal aesthetic since my introduction to fantasy was not LOTR or Narnia or anything like that but rather video games such as Chrono Trigger and Final Fantasy 6 where technofantasy was the order of the day.

And so on and so forth and et cetera.

Stacked up against all those other options, Giantslayer is just... meh. Orcs, giants, traditional LOTR-inspired fantasy... just doesn't do it for me, or my group. We've long since moved on from that basic platform and want something more interesting, more unusual, more FANTASTICAL. Giantslayer just screams "mundane". It doesn't even have the whole "epic ancient evil wizard versus heroic hometown heroes" vibe of Runelords.

Every AP prior, I've looked back on it and at least said "I can repurpose this for something", even ones like Jade Regent that I knew I'd never run straight on their own. Giantslayer was the first AP I looked at and thought "Wow, I have absolutely zero drive to make ANY use of this", and the reviews and responses since have only further confirmed that initial impression.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber

I have to say that Giantslayer just didn't hit the buttons of "Wow, neat!" for me. While I am primarily collecting APs at this point and probably won't run most of them (my group doesn't meet regularly), I do enjoy reading through them and enjoy their stories. I even take elements of various APs and integrate them when I think it would make for a good fit.

I've not done that with Giantslayer. Which is a shame. I was a huge fan of Against the Giants. But I'm not sure if there was a big enough hook at the start... at least, not when compared to the other APs. And sometimes an homage can fall short when compared to the source material.


My group finished Giantslayer so here are some thoughts:

I really liked the first two books which dealt primarily with the Orc stuff. I found this compelling and enjoyed the sense of place that came with Belkzen and Trunau. Unfortunately after book 2 the AP sends you off into mountains and your essentially homeless murderhobos.

Book 5 was terrible and our GM did massive rewrites to make it work out as less of a mindless grind. In fact a lot of the later part of the AP is a massive grind that tested the creativity of our GM and her ability to rewrite and design substitute material.

The end boss was boring and not particularly flushed out.

So yeah, not too much love for GS but it really didn't live up to its potential.


Pathfinder Companion, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

I have to admit, having Hero Lab really makes a difference in terms of changing encounters that are built for the game. I also have the GS library, so I can easily load the encounters and modify them without breaking a sweat. It is not difficult to see how it may be cumbersome to deal with strong party builds, increased PC count, etc. on the fly, or even ahead of time - it is a time sink. Generally speaking, when I adjust an encounter "on the fly" due to players not showing up, I either revert to the book version, or drop some of the extra baddies.

Liberty's Edge

Giantslayer has some really great stuff in it. For example:

-I loved the seige of Trunau that dominates the first book
-I thought the heart broken Hill Giant with a big fat crush on Voltus was funny, I think her name is Grenseldek.
-I thought the sabotage of the Frost Giant village was cool
-Cloud castles are awesome!

So I would say while GS is not a perfect AP, there is a lot of good stuff in it. I had the benefit of an awesome GM who inserted plenty of stuff into it to make it work for our characters and I also had a great group to play off of. So I would suggest playing it if you like epic fantasy troupes.

Order of the Amber Die

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Briit wrote:

My group finished Giantslayer so here are some thoughts:

I really liked the first two books which dealt primarily with the Orc stuff. I found this compelling and enjoyed the sense of place that came with Belkzen and Trunau. Unfortunately after book 2 the AP sends you off into mountains and your essentially homeless murderhobos.

Book 5 was terrible and our GM did massive rewrites to make it work out as less of a mindless grind. In fact a lot of the later part of the AP is a massive grind that tested the creativity of our GM and her ability to rewrite and design substitute material.

The end boss was boring and not particularly flushed out.

So yeah, not too much love for GS but it really didn't live up to its potential.

It’s been really interesting reading all of the different opinions about Giantslayer here. When we were headed through the AP, we were alone after each marathon trying to sort out how we felt about it, with only each other and not the community. It’s been months now, and I've shared the thoughts here with my players, but they are especially eager to hear more from those who completed it. So if Voltsus was a boring opponent at the end, how did your fight go? He thoroughly dominated over our party in a way we hadn’t experienced for a long time, which ended up being thrilling for a group of veteran players. Also, did your group manage to pull off resting in the cloud castle?

GM
Order of the Amber Die

Dark Archive

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The reason I don't like this AP is because after having D&D as a hobby for the better part of two decades, this AP is just so boring. Giants can be interesting adversaries, but this AP doesn't do anything new or interesting with them, the villain is also really uninteresting. It's just book after book of working your way up the color-coded food chain of giant kin.

An entire campaign built mostly around a single type of adversary isn't a very good idea in my opinion. It would probably have been better if they'd done a module about giants, rather than an entire AP.


Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

In episodes 2-5 (I haven't looked at 6 much as we're just starting 5) there is a LOT of use of foes 3-6 CR below the party level. We are finding those fights completely unengaging. The numbers aren't large enough to be any threat; if I jack up the numbers until they are, the fights take too long. I don't know why Giantslayer does this so consistently.

My player has taken to deliberately provoking 2, 3, even 4 encounters to happen at once. This does add to the challenge, but the huge fights are a pain to run. For example, at Shimmerman's Rest (#3) he managed to lead almost the whole force to the village and beat it there. The final battle of #3 was against about 30 giants and other creatures, at longish range, and was a moderately easy win for the PCs.

I can see that it'd be a different story with a melee-heavy party. The PCs befriended a troll fighter a while back and she gets pounded into a regenerating pulp just about every fight. But for any tactic but straight melee, the giants have a lot of problems. They can't handle archery (they are bad shots with their stones), or invisibility, or stealth, or charm magic, or reflex saves, or anti-movement magic (Stone Spikes is my player's go-to since we banned Damaging Entangle). That's a LOT of things not to be able to handle.

And I have to echo the general perception that there is some imaginative stuff in #1 and #2, but #3-#6 are pretty colorless. The dead Frost Queen is kind of cool but not much is done with her. My player really wanted to do Giantslayer and seems to be enjoying it, but frankly, I find it the most boring AP I've yet run (RotRL, Second Darkness, Reign of Winter, Kingmaker, Shattered Star, and chunks of Carrion Crown). To my tastes it could really use some more occult or weird elements. After #2 those seem to dry up.


Pathfinder Companion, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Your player? Like, a single person?

Either way, I've been puzzled by the low CR level, too. When a group of 4 brand new players (and a PC played by me) walk through a battle that is labelled a "scourge," in 1 round... This is why I think the Sunday group will have an easy time at the end of book 2.

I usually counter it by stringing multiple encounters together intentionally as well. It is not always possible, however.


Pathfinder Companion, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Order of the Amber Die wrote:

It’s been really interesting reading all of the different opinions about Giantslayer here. When we were headed through the AP, we were alone after each marathon trying to sort out how we felt about it, with only each other and not the community. It’s been months now, and I've shared the thoughts here with my players, but they are especially eager to hear more from those who completed it. So if Voltsus was a boring opponent at the end, how did your fight go? He thoroughly dominated over our party in a way we hadn’t experienced for a long time, which ended up being thrilling for a group of veteran players. Also, did your group manage to pull off resting in the cloud castle?

GM
Order of the Amber Die

I am curious about something with you guys and your endeavor: what kind of point buy did you use? The only character stats any of your players posted came out pretty far ahead of a 25-point buy, IIRC. I ask because if that's really what they did, and they STILL had trouble with Volstus... ouch.

Unfortunately, I don't think my Saturday group will get that far before switching back to Mummy's Mask (and then CotCT), and my Sunday group will take at least another year to get there, if not more.

Order of the Amber Die

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taks wrote:
Order of the Amber Die wrote:

It’s been really interesting reading all of the different opinions about Giantslayer here. When we were headed through the AP, we were alone after each marathon trying to sort out how we felt about it, with only each other and not the community. It’s been months now, and I've shared the thoughts here with my players, but they are especially eager to hear more from those who completed it. So if Voltsus was a boring opponent at the end, how did your fight go? He thoroughly dominated over our party in a way we hadn’t experienced for a long time, which ended up being thrilling for a group of veteran players. Also, did your group manage to pull off resting in the cloud castle?

GM
Order of the Amber Die

I am curious about something with you guys and your endeavor: what kind of point buy did you use? The only character stats any of your players posted came out pretty far ahead of a 25-point buy, IIRC. I ask because if that's really what they did, and they STILL had trouble with Volstus... ouch.

Unfortunately, I don't think my Saturday group will get that far before switching back to Mummy's Mask (and then CotCT), and my Sunday group will take at least another year to get there, if not more.

We used the Standard system from p. 15 of the CRB to generate ability scores, but you're right that even decent scores did not grant victory. We've witnessed a few times now that for a party of 16th level characters, ability scores are rarely the determinant factor in a battle of Volstus's magnitude. Instead, considerations such as artifacts (or lack thereof), magic items, spell selection, and class makeup of the party tend to have the more dramatic impact on survival. Situational factors played a large role here as well, since an aerial battle can be significantly more challenging to manage when your opponent is riding an ancient dragon. Ironically, our first campaign to reach 20th consisted of a party of all melee characters!

Best of luck with Volstus next year!


Pathfinder Companion, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Ah, yes, that makes sense. I'm so used to doing point-buys (we default to 25), that I forget about the other methods. I suppose that explains the nice rolls!

It also makes sense that stats become less important the higher your level. At first level, that extra +1 to hit and damage, or AC, makes a difference. At 16th, you're having a hard time figuring out what to spend your loot on.


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Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
taks wrote:

Your player? Like, a single person?

Either way, I've been puzzled by the low CR level, too. When a group of 4 brand new players (and a PC played by me) walk through a battle that is labelled a "scourge," in 1 round... This is why I think the Sunday group will have an easy time at the end of book 2.

Yes, one player/three characters; pretty standard for our house games. This is what happens when two gamers marry each other....

We're playing #5 now and still there are all these too-low encounters. What are regular hellhounds (CR3) supposed to accomplish vs. 12th level PCs? Maybe realistically they would be there but the resulting fights need to be abstracted away; playing them out is a waste of everyone's time. (If you are attacking fire giants in an active volcano fire resistance is a no-brainer....)

Also there are ettins and ogres. Really? The premise that this is the elite training base where only the best are sent is a GREAT way to justify only having higher-level giants here; instead we get basic ettins and ogres?

I'll stick this one out to the end. It is not the most flawed AP Paizo has done. But it may be the most boring, at least from my side of the table.

Grand Lodge

Paizo should just do away with the XP and level up at certain points, then they can really though good combats at people.


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

They already provide that.

You can cut whatever you feel necessary. But some of us still like experience points.


Pathfinder Companion, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

No need to do away with XP, at least, not with APs since there are clear level points that allow you to do it either way. Having XP also makes it easier to guage relative power levels of encounters.

Mary Yamato, I'll probably be adjusting for my Sunday crew now that I'm comfortable with being a GM. Also, I wish my wife liked gaming, but sadly, she does not. My son does, however, and he and I are going through a 1-on-1 currently. It's the rogue track in the compilation found here, which is pretty cool.


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

My opinion -

It's not that Giantslayer is a bad AP, it is just that it is a "safe" one. By safe I mean that there are few elements that detract from common fantasy elements. Iron Gods threw in technology, Kingmaker threw in kingdom building, and Wrath of the Righteous threw in mythic rules. Giantslayer didn't add anything that rocked the boat, so it likely had a wider audience - it didn't stand out either (insert giant pun here?).

In short, lots of groups enjoyed it, yet it wouldn't be a likely favorite candidate.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber

One thing that has been suggested to Paizo is a "hard difficulty" AP that reaches a higher level (possibly even level 20, though the general consensus is "it's not doable"). If Paizo eliminated all of the lower difficulty encounters and had everything at least AP+1 for difficulty, then that would lessen the complains.

As for fighting hell hounds with higher-level characters? It's doable, using the Troops rule. Having 8-12 hell hounds attacking as a swarm that does automatic damage and can't be hit by single-target attacks does change how those encounters would play out, and also would allow for an encounter that is in some ways more thematic - having adventurers fighting a dozen or so foes at once while lessening the number of die-rolls required by the GM.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I guess this AP was truly meant to be played by a party of a Dwarven (axe and shield) Fighter, Human (wands of cure light wounds? never needed one!) Cleric, Elven (fireball-swinging) Maic-User and Halfling (vanilla) Thief.


Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Tangent101 wrote:


As for fighting hell hounds with higher-level characters? It's doable, using the Troops rule. Having 8-12 hell hounds attacking as a swarm that does automatic damage and can't be hit by single-target attacks does change how those encounters would play out, and also would allow for an encounter that is in some ways more thematic - having adventurers fighting a dozen or so foes at once while lessening the number of die-rolls required by the GM.

This was featured in _Reign of Winter_, which I ran for our multi-player group. It didn't go over well. Players who are familiar with how the encounter would play out with normal rules balk at the fact that the troop rules suddenly make it lethal. It'd be better to use creatures that are legitimately a threat (I recommend Nessian hellhounds, which I've been using exclusively; at +20 to hit those can occasionally hit a PC) rather than deciding that creatures which are known to be unable to hurt the PCs suddenly become lethal when there are 8-12 of them.

(In the case of regular hellhounds vs. PCs, fly plus fire resistance still seems like a perfect defense. Nice high ceilings here. But in general I don't think I can use the troop rules.)

The other problem is that creatures immune to single-target attacks shut down martials, which frankly is the last thing we need: the only parties for which Giantslayer seems to really shine are melee-centric martial parties.

Luckily I don't use EXP so I don't have to worry about the effects of substituting Nessians and bumping up the numbers--and worse, my player has decided *not* to collapse the barracks but to chokepoint them and kill a squillion giants instead.

Modules 3, 4 and 5 have earnestly assured me that OF COURSE the PCs can't face the whole giant army. Unfortunately while they can't face it in the open, if they can chokepoint it or break it up they totally can. I saw a party take out the giant army in _City of the Spider Queen_ many years ago. It was a crashing bore and I would never run something like that again, but it is totally feasible.

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