Which APs Have the Most Easily-Separable Openings?


Pathfinder Adventure Path General Discussion

Shadow Lodge

So I'm trying to get some non-TTRPG-playing friends into Pathfinder, because I figure that's easier on and less scary to my particular psyche than making new friends. In the spirit of dipping a toe in, they've asked for a one-shot before trying anything long-form. While I understand the mindset and want to cater to it, I also want to account for the possibility that they grow attached not only to the game but also to their particular characters, and want to keep using them in something more long-form.

To that end, I'm interested in severing the first book off an AP and just running that, or even the opening adventure from that first book. My question is, which opening books and/or opening adventures are best suited to doing that? I know all AP volumes are theoretically designed to be run as standalone adventures, but common sense tells me that some achieve this goal better than others.

Also, I'd prefer to run an adventure I already own rather than buying a new one. So if it turns out that any of the following APs has an especially-separable first part, that's all to the good:

1. Rise of the Runelords (original or anniversary edition);
2. Curse of the Crimson Throne (original or anniversary edition);
3. Second Darkness;
4. Council of Thieves;
5. Kingmaker;
6. Jade Regent;
7. Skull and Shackles;
8. Shattered Star;
9. Reign of Winter;
10. Wrath of the Righteous;
11. Iron Gods;
12. Hell's Rebels;
13. Hell's Vengeance; or
14. Ironfang Invasion.

I'm currently looking towards Rise of the Runelords, Curse of the Crimson Throne, Second Darkness, and Jade Regent as having especially standalone first parts, but am I mistaken about these, or missing something?


The first book of Kingmaker would work quite well. "Go explore this land and take out the bandit that is ruling there."

I think Rise of the Runelords would be awkward as a stand-alone but it's been a long time since I played it.
I've heard the first book of Skulls & Shackles is fantastic on its own.
Hell's Rebels and Ironfang Invasion would be awful on their own.
I don't know about the rest.

Related but not exactly what you're looking for:
The Price of Immortality trilogy of modules works really well as a way to introduce people and if they really don't like it the first book is enough for them to decide (levels 1 & 2) but if they want to continue they can play through levels 1-6.
And the first two books of Mummy's Mask would work as a story (with super basic modifications).


Second Darkness would work well as the first book is quite distinct from the rest.

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zimmerwald1915 wrote:


1. Rise of the Runelords (original or anniversary edition);

Burnt Offerings one would work quite well. One of the knocks against the original version of the AP is that the links between books was weak.

zimmerwald1915 wrote:
2. Curse of the Crimson Throne (original or anniversary edition);

If you run Edge of Anarchy, you are likely to need to complete the AP. No bad thing as this is some of the best work Paizo has ever done. But the Harrow deck element links the adventures quite well.

zimmerwald1915 wrote:
3. Second Darkness;

Shadow in the Sky is not actually a bad adventure, even given that the main bad guy acts kind of illogically.

zimmerwald1915 wrote:
6. Jade Regent;

The problem with The Brinewall Legacy is that the heroes are already part of the caravan heading to the other side of the world.

--- --- ---

Actually, I have to ask a different question. If you did get "stuck" running a campaign, which would you most want to do?

Shadow Lodge

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Lord Fyre wrote:
Actually, I have to ask a different question. If you did get "stuck" running a campaign, which would you most want to do?

Getting "stuck" running a campaign would actually be the best-case scenario, since it means I'll have succeeded at selling Pathfinder to new players enough that they want to keep playing. 'Tis a consummation devoutly to be wish'd.

The prospect really makes me want to run Edge of Anarchy - or what's more likely for the first session, the raid on the fish house - because that adventure formed the opening for the first long campaign I ever played and the only one I ever finished, though that campaign diverged from Curse of the Crimson Throne fairly early on.


The first adventure is Serpent Skull, Souls For Smugglers Shiv, would work quite well. The PC's are shipwrecked on an island and have to figure out how to survive and get back to civilization. It pushes them to get to know one another and work together and they can't wander off on a tangent because, y'know, island.


Magog wrote:
The first adventure is Serpent Skull, Souls For Smugglers Shiv, would work quite well. The PC's are shipwrecked on an island and have to figure out how to survive and get back to civilization. It pushes them to get to know one another and work together and they can't wander off on a tangent because, y'know, island.

Agree 100%. Best open ended AP campaign start (imho). It can easily fit into any campaign AP or otherwise. Well worth the purchase price.


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

Fires of Creation, the first adventure for Iron Gods, can be run either as a stand-alone or as a two part arc with Lords of Rust with only a few modifications. The themes (super-science) aren't to everyone's tastes, however.

Scarab Sages

Reign of Winter is really really easy to make separable if you end it about 2/3 through. You just have Teb Knotten's defeat close the portal to winter and it works perfectly as a start to finish adventure. Alternately, you could still have them go through the portal and just make Radosek the boss of the whole thing. Ice themed dude living in an ice castle makes a logical end boss for the story.

Also Kingmaker is really easy to end after the first book. Just frame the adventure as the party being sent to deal with the Stag Lord and don't give them the "oh and then found a kingdom" and it runs fine.

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zimmerwald1915 wrote:
Lord Fyre wrote:
Actually, I have to ask a different question. If you did get "stuck" running a campaign, which would you most want to do?

Getting "stuck" running a campaign would actually be the best-case scenario, since it means I'll have succeeded at selling Pathfinder to new players enough that they want to keep playing. 'Tis a consummation devoutly to be wish'd.

The prospect really makes me want to run Edge of Anarchy - or what's more likely for the first session, the raid on the fish house - because that adventure formed the opening for the first long campaign I ever played and the only one I ever finished, though that campaign diverged from Curse of the Crimson Throne fairly early on.

In that case, I would recommend that you do run Edge of Anarchy. Here's to hoping you do get "stuck." :)

Dark Archive

Burnt Offerings and Souls for the Smuggler's Shiv out of those ones are easiest to run as oneshot without feeling of "Huh, I think there are loose ends". Like, you could totally run IG's first book alone, but it WOULD leave the loose end of "Huh, WHY are these cultists here doing this?"

But yeah, Crimson Throne is best AP to get stuck on :D


I second Crypt of the Everflame. Not fond of book 2 (it assumes the players do something massively stupid while fully aware of the consequences and tells the GM they need to make something up if they are like rational people). Book three works but you need to make a small adjustment for it.

Spoiler:
Book 2 requires them outright agree to get drugged and become slaves to an evil cult. What? Even "undercover" that's a pretty bad hook.

Book 3 just requires the PCs have some way of realizing the gold is fake because there is no in-character way to do it.

One slightly more unusual option is to run Crypt of the Everflame, find some way to get them to level 5 and run Red Hand of Doom. There are stat block conversions of Red Hand of Doom out there already and converting Crypt of the Everflame's hook to open to Red Hand of Doom is easy enough

Spoiler:
The Red Hand stole the thing from the tomb isn't part of a key, it's needed for the Hand's ritual and the PCs are chasing after the hand to get it back/stop them.

The problem is the only published 3.5 module I'm aware of that starts at level 3 and ends at level 5 is Forge of Fury which is meh.

Another option is the 3.5 Eberron modules that start with the adventure in the Eberron Campaign setting and follow up from it.

Dark Archive

Uh, for one of your spoiler tags, isn't that what the appraise skill is for? I mean even if its magic effect thing or something, appraise can identify that, you can't cheat good appraise skill roll :D


Spoiler:
I didn't mean fake as in not real gold, but fake in that the PCs can't take it so it's worthless. As far the module indicates it's real gold, it just becomes worthless if it's taken outside the city. At the very least there's no way for players to realize this short of leaving the city with some given that I saw.


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Souls for the Smuggler's Shiv - the first part of Serpent's Skull has received wide praise.

Fires of Creation - the first book of Iron Gods - is not only easily separable, but is a fun little dungeon dive.

Battle of Blood March Hill - which is Book 1 of Giantslayer (not on your list) - all takes place in one town, but there's an investigation, intrigue, a tug of war, and a bunch of combat.


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CorvusMask wrote:
Like, you could totally run IG's first book alone, but it WOULD leave the loose end of "Huh, WHY are these cultists here doing this?"

Just have the cultists be associated with the Technic League instead of Hellion if you want to stop after one adventure. "We need a bunch of battery power for some obscure device and we don't care what happens to the town of Torch."


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Dragonchess Player wrote:
CorvusMask wrote:
Like, you could totally run IG's first book alone, but it WOULD leave the loose end of "Huh, WHY are these cultists here doing this?"
Just have the cultists be associated with the Technic League instead of Hellion if you want to stop after one adventure. "We need a bunch of battery power for some obscure device and we don't care what happens to the town of Torch."

pretty much.

Numeria is full of lunatics. They don't even have to have a reason to do something nuts. Or heck, they didn't even know what they were doing and just pulled the wrong lever.


You should run what most engages you since your engagement will increase the chance your new players will get engaged as well. I would also agree that Burnt Offerings is very separate from the rest of RotRL. Book 1 of Rise is meant to get the pc's to care about Sandpoint and Sandpoint to care about/trust the pc's. Otherwise there are almost no connections with the rest of the AP - one NPC the pc's meet in Book 1 starts making trouble in Book 2 in a way that no one could anticipate and the BBEG of Book 1 has a backstory connection to the BBEG of Book 2 in a way I would guess most pc groups never learn. Otherwise any group of 4th level pc's that showed up in Sandpoint at the right time could pick up the AP in Book 2 without any problem. Or a group of pc's could finish Book 1 and stop without any lingering "what about <blank>?" loose ends.


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Latrecis wrote:
You should run what most engages you since your engagement will increase the chance your new players will get engaged as well. I would also agree that Burnt Offerings is very separate from the rest of RotRL. Book 1 of Rise is meant to get the pc's to care about Sandpoint and Sandpoint to care about/trust the pc's. Otherwise there are almost no connections with the rest of the AP - one NPC the pc's meet in Book 1 starts making trouble in Book 2 in a way that no one could anticipate and the BBEG of Book 1 has a backstory connection to the BBEG of Book 2 in a way I would guess most pc groups never learn. Otherwise any group of 4th level pc's that showed up in Sandpoint at the right time could pick up the AP in Book 2 without any problem. Or a group of pc's could finish Book 1 and stop without any lingering "what about <blank>?" loose ends.

honestly, most of the parts of Rise are separate from the rest.

I don't quite understand the veneration which the AP receives - admittedly, I haven't played through it - but owning the hardcover... it just doesn't flow together. It seems far more like ... well ... what its legacy is, which is a series of adventures in a magazine, which someone might pick up.

I understand that a lot of people love the AP, and there's a lot to love about it, but each part can clearly be played without the other issues.

Dark Archive

I think ye are thinking of it from bit of a wrong angle. Like, good campaign isn't just about how well overall plot fits into a plot arc or stuff like Crimson Throne were NPC cast members regularly appear through the whole AP and are never thus completely forgotten by the story, RotR's each book is well written and have memorable moments. There is not really "bad" book.

RotR is noted to be best traditional dungeon crawling campaign among APs and I don't mean just design, I mean the "Evil Ancient Wizard is returning" plot as well <_< Its essentially really good Vanilla campaign and good for first time players and GMs.

Its also that its progression is based on mystery and players being interested in following up on the mystery instead of quest giver telling them what to do and such. Plus its surprising how few APs return to starter town, not many campaigns have the "Heroes return to home after long time" type moments.

But I digress back to what I meant: Ye are seeing it as a flaw that each book focuses on different theme and thus can be made self contained when that is actually part of the appeal <_<

(Like compare it to starfinder AP dead suns which has opposite problem: Its overall plot follows building up to climax that happens in books 5 and 6 which are also the best books of the AP, while first four books are kinda... Not exciting. You could probably run each part separately, but overally first four part don't work alone, in RotR every part does.)

Dark Archive

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Yakman wrote:
Battle of Blood March Hill - which is Book 1 of Giantslayer (not on your list) - all takes place in one town, but there's an investigation, intrigue, a tug of war, and a bunch of combat.

Oh I forgot how much fun Book 1 of Giantslayer was... mostly because the rest of the AP just wasn't great. But you're right, you could easily play book 1 as just an orc attack on the town and have a blast. I might have to do that soon...


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CorvusMask wrote:

I think ye are thinking of it from bit of a wrong angle. Like, good campaign isn't just about how well overall plot fits into a plot arc or stuff like Crimson Throne were NPC cast members regularly appear through the whole AP and are never thus completely forgotten by the story, RotR's each book is well written and have memorable moments. There is not really "bad" book.

RotR is noted to be best traditional dungeon crawling campaign among APs and I don't mean just design, I mean the "Evil Ancient Wizard is returning" plot as well <_< Its essentially really good Vanilla campaign and good for first time players and GMs.

Its also that its progression is based on mystery and players being interested in following up on the mystery instead of quest giver telling them what to do and such. Plus its surprising how few APs return to starter town, not many campaigns have the "Heroes return to home after long time" type moments.

But I digress back to what I meant: Ye are seeing it as a flaw that each book focuses on different theme and thus can be made self contained when that is actually part of the appeal <_<

(Like compare it to starfinder AP dead suns which has opposite problem: Its overall plot follows building up to climax that happens in books 5 and 6 which are also the best books of the AP, while first four books are kinda... Not exciting. You could probably run each part separately, but overally first four part don't work alone, in RotR every part does.)

well... can't compare it to Starfinder's Dead Suns, b/c we were TPK'd in Book 5...

YOU ARE BRINGING BACK THE SADNESS

(we had a lot of fun getting there though)

Shadow Lodge

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Lord Fyre wrote:
In that case, I would recommend that you do run Edge of Anarchy. Here's to hoping you do get "stuck." :)
Latrecis wrote:
You should run what most engages you since your engagement will increase the chance your new players will get engaged as well.

Makes sense. Opening of Edge of Anarchy it is, then. Thanks.

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CorvusMask wrote:
I think ye are thinking of it from bit of a wrong angle. Like, good campaign isn't just about how well overall plot fits into a plot arc or stuff like Crimson Throne were NPC cast members regularly appear through the whole AP and are never thus completely forgotten by the story, RotR's each book is well written and have memorable moments. There is not really "bad" book.

Really? Because I HATED the Hook Mountain Massacre.


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I suppose somebody had to.

Dark Archive

Lord Fyre wrote:
CorvusMask wrote:
I think ye are thinking of it from bit of a wrong angle. Like, good campaign isn't just about how well overall plot fits into a plot arc or stuff like Crimson Throne were NPC cast members regularly appear through the whole AP and are never thus completely forgotten by the story, RotR's each book is well written and have memorable moments. There is not really "bad" book.
Really? Because I HATED the Hook Mountain Massacre.

You do realize that subjective opinion =/= objective fact? :D I'm sure there are people who absolutely hate Crimson Throne or Iron Gods as well.

Hook Mountain Massacre has memorable stuff like Graul family, the scene with certain lake monster and rather free form fortress attack with multiple ways to do it. Its dungeon ending is bit standard, but there were still memorable stuff there too.


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CorvusMask wrote:
Lord Fyre wrote:
CorvusMask wrote:
I think ye are thinking of it from bit of a wrong angle. Like, good campaign isn't just about how well overall plot fits into a plot arc or stuff like Crimson Throne were NPC cast members regularly appear through the whole AP and are never thus completely forgotten by the story, RotR's each book is well written and have memorable moments. There is not really "bad" book.
Really? Because I HATED the Hook Mountain Massacre.

You do realize that subjective opinion =/= objective fact? :D I'm sure there are people who absolutely hate Crimson Throne or Iron Gods as well.

Hook Mountain Massacre has memorable stuff like Graul family, the scene with certain lake monster and rather free form fortress attack with multiple ways to do it. Its dungeon ending is bit standard, but there were still memorable stuff there too.

There's good stuff there, yeah.

But ... and I mean this ... there's a lot of potentially AMAZING STUFF which is left out.

Spoiler:

There is an evil gambling boat of sin! And... it's a burnt out husk under the lake when the pcs show up. Like... the pcs should have an opportunity to go on the boat and party it up, and that's how they should realize what's going on. they should be the ones to burn it down.

The final battle should be a BATTLE. not an infiltration (where the bad guys are explicitly ruled to be ignoring OGRE fights in the next building over). Surviving, scattered rangers should be recruited, the pcs should journey to giant eagle aeries to bring them on for revenge, and the good guys should be showing up in force to take on the usurpers.


I think it could have done with a little more page count.

Dark Archive

I mean yeah, in retrospective gambling boat is sunk because it got cut down in development is rather obvious, but players won't notice it and maybe not GM too.

Anyhoo, Fort Rannick wasn't the final battle, but either way I actually prefer infiltrations to war scenes :D That said, I don't really ever do the "NPCs ignore fights in other rooms" unless it makes sense in character, I just have them roll perception to notice and join the fight usually.


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CorvusMask wrote:

I mean yeah, in retrospective gambling boat is sunk because it got cut down in development is rather obvious, but players won't notice it and maybe not GM too.

Anyhoo, Fort Rannick wasn't the final battle, but either way I actually prefer infiltrations to war scenes :D That said, I don't really ever do the "NPCs ignore fights in other rooms" unless it makes sense in character, I just have them roll perception to notice and join the fight usually.

Spoiler:
.... and it wasn't even the final battle! but it should have been!

zimmerwald1915 wrote:
Lord Fyre wrote:
In that case, I would recommend that you do run Edge of Anarchy. Here's to hoping you do get "stuck." :)
Latrecis wrote:
You should run what most engages you since your engagement will increase the chance your new players will get engaged as well.
Makes sense. Opening of Edge of Anarchy it is, then. Thanks.

As written EoA does not have an impressive ending from a "final combat" perspective (the Warrens). Obviously the actual end is pretty cool and could hook people in

An idea would be to try and move Gaedren - I have seen that mentioned a lot. Or somehow reorder the missions and end it with Eel's end?


Yakman wrote:

But ... and I mean this ... there's a lot of potentially AMAZING STUFF which is left out.
** spoiler omitted **
I think it could have done with a little more page count.

I believe the content you are referring to was reworked as one of the sequences in the opening adventure of Curse of the Crimson Throne, so we did sort of get the opportunity to see some of that development.

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