Recent Adventure Paths underwhelming to you? And if so, why?


Pathfinder Adventure Path General Discussion

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Sunderstone wrote:

On the "softer" tangent... Shoonies!

Is this really a thing? Puppy People? I know April 1st is coming but the blog is kind of early.

People like Leshys, and Goblins, and Gnomes, and Fox dudes, why not pug People... New players really get excited easily with weird races.

If you want, you can keep your game as gritty and bloody as you want.
In WOTR, there is a great passage, that says; IF you want you can make the scene even more gruesome, maybe with the heads or body parts of an NPC the players like. (I like that it says; IF YOU WANT) So, everyone can enjoy a brutal scene, or a more Saturday Morning cartoon one.


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James Jacobs wrote:
Personally, I do hope that we can do a grim adventure or even an Adventure Path again at some point. We'll see, but the world is a different place in many ways than it was 15 years ago...

Quite honestly, I don't get that point at all. In fact, looking at the video games industry, things are more graphically violent than ever. I'd much prefer Paizo to have remained more gritty overall in its approach to its game world, although certainly not in a way to descend into narm and grimdark.

Dark Archive

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I think this topic is slowly getting to the point where people don't know what others are talking about because everyone is avoiding specifics .-.

Like I think its pretty clear what people aren't talking about isn't mass murder because pretty much all APs have at least one example of that happening :P (and no I'm not making joke about PCs, I'm talking about scenes of brutal massacres being described exists in literally every AP)

Starfinder I could actually see being argued to be in lighter in terms of tone, but Pathfinder is still pretty brutal.


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Yeah, I’m very confused by terminology. I’ve always considered gritty to be more about the scope of PC power - gritty vis superheroes kind of thing. I don’t see it as part of the PG-R scale.

(I considered Hook Mountain Massacre to be as vile as I want things to get, but I wouldn’t have called it gritty).

I think the APs are improving, personally. This despite the fact that my favourites are mostly from the early ones. I think that says more about me than the quality of the APs though

Dark Archive

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Yeah, hook mountain massacre is horrific because of how gross it is, but grittiness =/= horror.

Like pretty much only dark aspect of Pathfinder that has been toned down is amount of sexual violence that you can notice in early APs until Jade Regent which is final AP with it being random throwaway bad guy trait(by which I mean it only exists to make bad guys more hateable) :P But since everyone is being indirect about they mean I can't really tell if that is what they actually mean?


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I agree with Steve Geddes about Hook Mountain as being as vile as I want it to get.
I don't care for gore, torture porn, body parts everywhere , etc.
I just want things how they were back in Paizo's beginnings with villains being as evil as they can be without being shackled by thoughts of "today's world" repercussions.

Magnuson brings up a great point, the new Doom is out and doing extremely well despite the over the top violence. And there are Demons!
Remember when people thought demons and a specific tabletop brand went hand in hand and we were considered satanic for playing?

CorvusMask, for me it's keeping the adult themes like the examples given throughout this thread. The man himself said they were toning it down and shifting more towards a more PG rating because of today's world being different than 15 years ago. Hope that clears things, I never created a gauge of specifics as to how adult I want things, just noticed the tonal shift of things that were later confirmed by the powers that be.
Not sure why this is still even being argued, folks here can scroll up for the official word themselves, yet they still insist it's not true.

Cutesy Goblins, Plushy Kobolds, Pug people, etc., doesn't do it for my crew.

(Humor) If we ever get a Domestic Shorthair subrace of Tabaxi, we can pair it with Swashbuckler in the upcoming APG, paint the next Ogre green, and buy a Donkey for a mount instead of a horse (/Humor)

We can all just agree to disagree here, it's totally okay. I'm done.

Dark Archive

Well I still insist that Mistress Dusklight is for catfolk circus ringleader one of more messed up villains I've seen in a while :p (also that Tyrant's Grasps had lot of messed up stuff)

I think only Starfinder APs are somewhat lighter in tone, though Threefold Conspiracy has lot of really dark stuff in first book when you think about it xD

But yeah, we can agree to disagree about race options at least, I like shoonies even though pugs are horrible unethical crime on dog kind :D

Silver Crusade

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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Sunderstone wrote:

I just want things how they were back in Paizo's beginnings with villains being as evil as they can be without being shackled by thoughts of "today's world" repercussions.

It seems your real problem is "today's world", then.


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Gorbacz wrote:


It seems your real problem is "today's world", then.

Pure Bait.

RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 4, RPG Superstar 2015 Top 32

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Sunderstone wrote:
Not sure why this is still even being argued, folks here can scroll up for the official word themselves, yet they still insist it's not true

Probably because we're talking about something subjective. While it's clear that Paizo is striving to appeal to a broader audience, the specifics of what somebody finds gory or grim varies from person to person.

A Paizo employee providing a statement on the matter clarifies intent, but the results are open to individual interpretation.

I only need to go back to the way my players reacted the last time they scored a critical hit against a brain collector (now a monster from the main Bestiary), splitting open a blister and spilling a fresh brain onto the floor, to note that the dark stuff in Pathfinder is far from gone.

The whole discussion of grimness and darkness is too subjective to be very productive. This also makes it fairly useless as a critique on modern adventure paths--while the new stuff might be missing a certain je ne sais quoi for some players, plenty of other examples provided in this very thread clearly demonstrate that many people do not think that the adventure paths have softened all that much.

Liberty's Edge

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As mentioned, Mistress Dusklight (main villain of Chapter 2 of Extinction Agenda), is pretty horrific. I'll put the rest in spoilers for those who wish to avoid them:

Spoiler:
She recruits for her (hideously abusive) circus via a combination of, and I quote, "blackmail, coercive magic, and even forceful abduction."

She also, as someone noted above, has a young Aasimar who she's seemingly been grooming since he was a teenager as her 'lover'. So that's skeevy as hell.

Her abuses include, explicitly, beating one of a set of twins whenever the other mouths off, having a Tiefling who is only resistant to fire, not immune, set himself on fire regularly as his 'act' (mention is made of his pain and extensive scarring from this), repeatedly removing the tongue of a child (she's a boggard, it grows back) to keep her silent (this is made worse by the fact she acquired said child as a baby), locking people in a pit when they disobey her (including leaving one there to die of dehydration), and forcibly tattooing someone to make them a better sideshow exhibit. And that's ignoring all the murder and dealing with xulgath.

She's frankly quite a bit more horrifying than Lamm was in CotCT, at least to me, though most of her abuses don't involve children, I'll admit...

I honestly just don't see recent APs as being notably less dark than most older ones (Hook Mountain Massacre is an extreme exception...but also an isolated one). They tend to keep the darkness a little less overt and maybe easier to remove...but it's still there. How dark an AP is absolutely varies between APs, but it's individual variation, not necessarily a trend.


A lot of this is not merely subjective, but often depends far more on emphasis than on the specifics of what actually happens. Off-stage, implied nastiness doesn't have the same visceral impact as things the players are confronted with directly.

The other point is that none of this is new. This isn't a new edition change, but a since the "first few APs" change. The big examples that keep being harped on are Hook Mt and use the goblins in the very first Pathfinder AP. Hook Mt was a never repeated outlier and I suspect the big change in goblins, though gradual, started by making them playable in We Be Goblins! and the follow-ups. And even from the beginning, goblins were silly and funny as well as horrific. Slapstick horror, if you will.

Shadow Lodge

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Steve Geddes wrote:
I daresay if you picked any theme (French nihilist philosophers, Marxist rhetoric, Christian allegory....doesn’t matter) someone with suitable energy and commitment to the cause would be able to find it in Rise of the Runelords and declare it wasn’t there in Age of Ashes (and probably vice versa, to be frank).

Is that a challenge? Because it sounds like a fun project.

For RotRL, are we talking original or Anniversary Edition?


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CorvusMask wrote:

Well I still insist that Mistress Dusklight is for catfolk circus ringleader one of more messed up villains I've seen in a while :p (also that Tyrant's Grasps had lot of messed up stuff)

I think only Starfinder APs are somewhat lighter in tone, though Threefold Conspiracy has lot of really dark stuff in first book when you think about it xD

But yeah, we can agree to disagree about race options at least, I like shoonies even though pugs are horrible unethical crime on dog kind :D

I've been playing a lot of Starfinder APs recently, and I think there's a subtle distinction about the whole "lighter tone" thing.

Recent Starfinder and Pathfinder APs *do* have plenty of evils being perpetrated. Some of the subject matter is very serious, reflecting real-world evils. Some of the subject matter is more saturday morning cartoon evil, but older Pathfinder had that too. However, most of the evil is left as context for the GM and doesn't come out in play unless the GM makes changes to include it.

However, the primary difference I see is the inclusion of more lighthearted elements within the actual text of the AP. Old Pathfinder very rarely went the goofy or whimsical route for NPCs, social events, or situations. Meanwhile newer APs (particularly Starfinder) LOVE including some lighthearted goofiness and whimsy. In Starfinder's Dead Suns (Book 3), on the way to tracking down the BBEG of the book you encounter a series of hilariously silly undead shopkeepers. It's fantastic. It's also very much not something that old Pathfinder APs tended to include (in my experience).

Dark Archive

I mean, Starfinder APs do have dark moments(the escaped prisoners in Against the Swarm!, that terrorist group take over in Dawn of Flame, whole of Threefold's Conspiracy, agaisnt the aeon throne and azlanti prison and I assume whole of signal of screams is pretty dark), but due to differences in format they also don't feel as dark on the whole. Like none of characters get full backstory articles and lot of major villains don't have as much space to detail horrific things they have done(starfinder APs have shorter page count reserved for the adventure, so there tends to be less of "and here is another room where main villain did something gruesome to npc), so while they are still "bad" they feel that in more "distant" offscreen manner.

Silver Crusade

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Also from what we can gather from this conversation is that Hook Mountain Massacre was an outlier to begin with, not the standard.


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Yeah... So, is just raping and killing children. That's the only mature theme it seems.
I have not played anything close to the last 4 APs... But every single one I read is full of potential for brutal scenes. IF you want "explicit" writing, then... yeah, of course, Paizo has toned it down. But that is a good thing, It means you can interpret the story in more than one way.

Also, the reviews from DR are the most cancerous thing. It is a poor lonely soul with so much anger against everyone. And he hasn't played anything, so, his opinion matter even less.


Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
zimmerwald1915 wrote:
Steve Geddes wrote:
I daresay if you picked any theme (French nihilist philosophers, Marxist rhetoric, Christian allegory....doesn’t matter) someone with suitable energy and commitment to the cause would be able to find it in Rise of the Runelords and declare it wasn’t there in Age of Ashes (and probably vice versa, to be frank).

Is that a challenge? Because it sounds like a fun project.

For RotRL, are we talking original or Anniversary Edition?

Anniversary edition probably, considering that's the one the majority of people will be exposed to.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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magnuskn wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:
Personally, I do hope that we can do a grim adventure or even an Adventure Path again at some point. We'll see, but the world is a different place in many ways than it was 15 years ago...
Quite honestly, I don't get that point at all. In fact, looking at the video games industry, things are more graphically violent than ever. I'd much prefer Paizo to have remained more gritty overall in its approach to its game world, although certainly not in a way to descend into narm and grimdark.

There's a world of difference between what's acceptable to society in a video game or move and what is acceptable in Pathfinder or other tabletop RPGs. We live in a world where a character like Pennywise can anchor one of the most successful r-rated horror movies of all time, but we can't use similar content in our games without uproar. The difference is that video games and movies aren't as interactive or personal as tabletop RPGs, nor as social since you aren't in the same room with the others you are playing with in a multiplayer game. The face-to-face element makes a tabletop RPG more personal, and when there's content that someone finds traumatic or objectionable or triggering or unpleasant, a fellow problem player or problem GM who's ignorance or callousness or cruelty or stubbornness can magnify the content. Furthermore, we have a very popular organized play program and "edgy" content isn't appropriate for such a mass campaign either, so when we produce things that can't or shouldn't be incorporated into PFS, that makes it more complicated for us to justify to management that the content should be produced.

I've personally had some very unpleasant and sobering and depressing interactions with folks online where content I've put into a book has traumatized or offended them, and it made me feel absolutely horrible to think that something I wrote, or more often, something that someone else wrote and I had the chance to change or soften or cut entirely but chose not to, was something that made even one other person feel awful.

I write to entertain and inspire and amuse, not to torture or torment or antagonize those who might read my stuff, and finding out that some things I've written or allowed to go to print have been negative to some readers has made me consider quitting the industry. So from a personal stance, I tend these days to be MUCH more careful about how I include content like this, both from a "I want to keep my job and not have a nervous breakdown" and more importantly from a "I want to make Pathifnder as safe and entertaining and fun as possible for as many people as I can."

MAYBE in a world where I've moved on from Paizo and am self-publishing content or working with a company that's got a different audience, I'll consider doing darker content again, but maybe not. I've actually lost close friends due to blowback in this category, and friends are a precious resource. I'd rather not do that again.


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But my escapism!
Its a shame this is not an imagination game where you can do everything you want. (And put as much murdering, raping, child-abusing as you want) (-1 star)

Joking aside, I think is better for the content to be neutral, so we personally can tune to taste


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For my money, the sixth book of Hell's Rebels contains the darkest stuff Paizo has ever put to print. So much so that it came with a content warning, and it was entirely warranted. It was genuinely unsettling, but not gratuitous, and it not only advanced the story it kind of tied it all together.

When Paizo is going to get grim- more of that, and less of "hook mountain massacre" or the mythos book from Carrion Crown.

Shadow Lodge

PossibleCabbage wrote:

For my money, the sixth book of Hell's Rebels contains the darkest stuff Paizo has ever put to print. So much so that it came with a content warning, and it was entirely warranted. It was genuinely unsettling, but not gratuitous, and it not only advanced the story it kind of tied it all together.

When Paizo is going to get grim- more of that, and less of "hook mountain massacre" or the mythos book from Carrion Crown.

This is just to note that while I agree that BtBoH was decent psychological horror, Barzillai's headscape was beside the point of what the AP had been doing up to the moment it was introduced.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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TSRodriguez wrote:

But my escapism!

Its a shame this is not an imagination game where you can do everything you want. (And put as much murdering, raping, child-abusing as you want) (-1 star)

Joking aside, I think is better for the content to be neutral, so we personally can tune to taste

It absolutely is a game where you can do everything you want... at YOUR TABLE. And with all of your players' consent.

That's a very different thing than what we can do as the publishers of the game.


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zimmerwald1915 wrote:
This is just to note that while I agree that BtBoH was decent psychological horror, Barzillai's headscape was beside the point of what the AP had been doing up to the moment it was introduced.

I meant specifically that the AP drops a lot of weird details that make you wonder "What is this guy's deal" since Barzillai is not just villainous, but he's weird. That doesn't pay off until book 6.

For me at least, the dark stuff explains something that happened before, even if it's not an especially important thing, just works much better than "the Ogres are reenacting 'the Hills Have Eyes' so you had best kill them on your way to the thing you care about."

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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PossibleCabbage wrote:

For my money, the sixth book of Hell's Rebels contains the darkest stuff Paizo has ever put to print. So much so that it came with a content warning, and it was entirely warranted. It was genuinely unsettling, but not gratuitous, and it not only advanced the story it kind of tied it all together.

When Paizo is going to get grim- more of that, and less of "hook mountain massacre" or the mythos book from Carrion Crown.

That's a great example of the type of dark/mature content we'll now and then continue to put in our adventures, as long as it makes sense for the story and isn't just gratuitous. And they'll come with content warnings to the GM, because too many GMs mistake "It's in the book so it's perfectly fine for me to run as-is for any group."

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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zimmerwald1915 wrote:
PossibleCabbage wrote:

For my money, the sixth book of Hell's Rebels contains the darkest stuff Paizo has ever put to print. So much so that it came with a content warning, and it was entirely warranted. It was genuinely unsettling, but not gratuitous, and it not only advanced the story it kind of tied it all together.

When Paizo is going to get grim- more of that, and less of "hook mountain massacre" or the mythos book from Carrion Crown.

This is just to note that while I agree that BtBoH was decent psychological horror, Barzillai's headscape was beside the point of what the AP had been doing up to the moment it was introduced.

Which is why we put a content warning on it.

It's also the first point that the Adventure Path really spent a significant time in Hell itself. There was, of course, a shorter bit in the penultimate adventure, but for the climax, I (and the author) wanted to make sure Hell felt like Hell and not "the lava level."


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For me, the more mature-themed AP is War for the Crown.

Silver Crusade

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I'd say the amount of stomach-churning in Reign of Winter takes the cake, with a bonus of actual fugliness of a real-world war on the top. This is, of course, if you're one of those weird Yurpeens who find sex fine, violence reprehensible and kids in danger highly dependant on what kind of danger it actually is.

*sips absinthe, listens to Edith Piaf, adjusts his pink sheer bathrobe and lipstick*

Shadow Lodge

TSRodriguez wrote:
For me, the more mature-themed AP is War for the Crown.

It's a Fisher King story. The naivete alone precludes mature themes. But to what in the story are you referring specifically?


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James Jacobs wrote:
zimmerwald1915 wrote:
PossibleCabbage wrote:

For my money, the sixth book of Hell's Rebels contains the darkest stuff Paizo has ever put to print. So much so that it came with a content warning, and it was entirely warranted. It was genuinely unsettling, but not gratuitous, and it not only advanced the story it kind of tied it all together.

When Paizo is going to get grim- more of that, and less of "hook mountain massacre" or the mythos book from Carrion Crown.

This is just to note that while I agree that BtBoH was decent psychological horror, Barzillai's headscape was beside the point of what the AP had been doing up to the moment it was introduced.

Which is why we put a content warning on it.

It's also the first point that the Adventure Path really spent a significant time in Hell itself. There was, of course, a shorter bit in the penultimate adventure, but for the climax, I (and the author) wanted to make sure Hell felt like Hell and not "the lava level."

i thought it was great, personally.

Dark Archive

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Reign of Winter has some super dark stuff yeah but I thought it served purpose.

Though seriously though, Hook Mountain Massacre is clearly meant to be shocking, but its exploitation horror movie type shocking where while everyone won't like it, and I'm squeked about it, I'm not actually angry or offended about it. Its pointless yeah and it does cause issues(since uh, logical conclusions about what happens if party members get taken as captives) but its works for what it is going for even if my preference is to ignore most of the gross parts when running that adventure.

What does anger me is

jade regent minor spoiler:
casually rapist bandits in one of jade regent books :P Besides the druid working for bandit having weretiger sex slave whose mind has been broken to be loyal to her rapist(and she is treated as just "surprise! one of prisoners turns into tiger!" combat encounter that fights to the death), the room for bandit chief's bed chamber mentions them taking the captive girls to sleep with sometimes. You know the ones who have been kidnapped from the local villages as hostages. And book doesn't dwell on it, it just casually mentions bandits being rapists but ignores victims completely

...Like seriously, am I only one who finds that to be incredibly screwed up treatment of npcs from jade regent? Nobody ever discusses it in Internet for some reason.

Stuff like Hell's Rebels final book? That is how to do dark stuff well. Its done well when its not just background dressing and when it has meaning to it. Pathfinder has really improved over years and it feels genuinely more mature to me than some of the older more overly darker stuff.

Shadow Lodge

CorvusMask wrote:
What does anger me is ** spoiler omitted **

Yeah, that's some boneheaded writing, right there. What book is it in? It's been ages since I've read JR.

Yakman wrote:
i thought it was great, personally.

The turn from social to psychological just put me off. Ultimately I don't find psychological explanations for behavior all that compelling, even when reified into a playable dungeon. Nor do I prize exploring the villain's psyche over repairing the damage they've done to the world.

It hardly needs saying, but this is a matter of taste. Again, it's well-written, thoughtful, and respectful enough.


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James Jacobs wrote:
TSRodriguez wrote:

But my escapism!

Its a shame this is not an imagination game where you can do everything you want. (And put as much murdering, raping, child-abusing as you want) (-1 star)

Joking aside, I think is better for the content to be neutral, so we personally can tune to taste

It absolutely is a game where you can do everything you want... at YOUR TABLE. And with all of your players' consent.

That's a very different thing than what we can do as the publishers of the game.

That was a blatant shot at me James, no worries from me. He's purposefully taking what I said out of context. You are older than I am (based on my recollection of meeting you at Gen Con back in 95ish, along with Dave Gross if I recall), you should recognize the bait with your forum experience by now, lol.

Not being snarky, it's just another shot fired right after Gorby's. I've continued to lurk in this thread since I have nothing to add after my apology for bringing the review up earlier.

Late Edit*** Your point does still have merit with Player's who are looking for that sort of thing. That follows rule 0.

Dark Archive

zimmerwald1915 wrote:
CorvusMask wrote:
What does anger me is ** spoiler omitted **

Yeah, that's some boneheaded writing, right there. What book is it in? It's been ages since I've read JR.

Yakman wrote:
i thought it was great, personally.

The turn from social to psychological just put me off. Ultimately I don't find psychological explanations for behavior all that compelling, even when reified into a playable dungeon. Nor do I prize exploring the villain's psyche over repairing the damage they've done to the world.

It hardly needs saying, but this is a matter of taste. Again, it's well-written, thoughtful, and respectful enough.

I think it was book 5 since I remember bandits being in when PCs get to Minkai in proper


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Sunderstone wrote:


Not being snarky, it's just another shot fired right after Gorby's. I've continued to lurk in this thread since I have nothing to add after my apology for bringing the review up earlier.

Yeah, it was. I'm sorry, that was crappy of me, but you lay the fruit really low. The escapism argument is really an excuse to be exclusive and to gatekeep new people from entering the hobby, which of course it means the language should be more friendly, and the writing more neutral (Even though the context might be dark and mature subject)

But come on man, don't play the victim, you said what you said; You don't want anything external to soil your escapism as if written in a bubble out of time and context. IF it were like this, as in the old ways, female characters would still be just damsels in distress and have a max strength of 16
Every piece of media reflects the context in which was created


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TSRodriguez wrote:
Sunderstone wrote:


Not being snarky, it's just another shot fired right after Gorby's. I've continued to lurk in this thread since I have nothing to add after my apology for bringing the review up earlier.

Yeah, it was. I'm sorry, that was crappy of me, but you lay the fruit really low. The escapism argument is really an excuse to be exclusive and to gatekeep new people from entering the hobby, which of course it means the language should be more friendly, and the writing more neutral (Even though the context might be dark and mature subject)

But come on man, don't play the victim, you said what you said; You don't want anything external to soil your escapism as if written in a bubble out of time and context. IF it were like this, as in the old ways, female characters would still be just damsels in distress and have a max strength of 16
Every piece of media reflects the context in which was created

Accepted, but I'm a tad more progressive than the damsels in distress days lol. :)

It's a forum, things get heated. As I said before I didn't think before posting the Amazon thing, I thought folks would see the other points like I did.

That said, it's still my opinion that paizo catapulted in popularity back then with damn good writing from APs like Runelords and CoCT, Hells Rebels and Row seemed well received as well. Two of those got new editions for the newer rules, and two did not (SD and LoF) based on popularity. I wish things continued on that path is all, that is my stance on the OP and why I find the later stuff underwhelming.

We are good TSRodriguez. Thanks for the post.

Shadow Lodge

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Sunderstone wrote:
That said, it's still my opinion that paizo catapulted in popularity back then with damn good writing from APs like Runelords and CoCT, Hells Rebels and Row seemed well received as well.

Come off it. Paizo benefitted from its competitors' own-goals in the 2008-2012 period far more than it did its own strengths as a company. PF1 was an extremely conservative game design-wise, and catered to people who wanted more of the same when they had it withheld from them by its erstwhile providers.

Paizo's politics weren't much better - CotCT had you playing cops roughing up anti-monarch rioters (and at least in one instance protecting a hapless aristocrat from resentful longshoremen) decades before Agents of Edgewatch was a gleam in anyone's eye. And they have not improved much.


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zimmerwald1915 wrote:
Sunderstone wrote:
That said, it's still my opinion that paizo catapulted in popularity back then with damn good writing from APs like Runelords and CoCT, Hells Rebels and Row seemed well received as well.
\Paizo's politics weren't much better - CotCT had you playing cops roughing up anti-monarch rioters (and at least in one instance protecting a hapless aristocrat from resentful longshoremen) decades before Agents of Edgewatch was a gleam in anyone's eye. And they have not improved much.

? but then you realize that the queen is evil.

it's called narrative arc. and it's party of why many people enjoy Curse so much.

Shadow Lodge

Yakman wrote:
but then you realize that the queen is evil.

And then after you realize that, you go and decapitate the leadership of a section of the city she's brutalized and left for dead, leaving nothing but chaos in your wake. You don't organize or inspire people to build alternatives themselves. Nor do they. Nor can they, after your intervention. Accordingly, the eventual coup against the Queen is led by the cops (with whom the party is expected to remain allied throughout the AP), and leads to a restoration of the same power structure that permitted her rise in the first place. If this is a character arc (which it isn't, it's a plot twist), it's shallow and self-validating. If it's a thematic, ideological statement about how things ought to be, it's worse. Given the chance to reexamine it years later, Paizo tinkered with the framework in only the most minor of ways.

Liberty's Edge

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Reading through the Jade Regent example, it's not quite as bad as you're remembering it. There's no explicit mention of rape at all, in fact.

Spoiler:
Specifically, it mentions the bandits having enslaved seven peasant girls "who have been kidnapped by the bandits or sold into slavery by their destitute families, labor in the hall, cleaning, cooking, serving food and drink, or otherwise attending to the bandits’ wishes." That can certainly include being raped if the GM decides it does, and likely would in real life, but there's no explicit inclusion of it. Nor any mention of them being abused at all, except for being locked in cages at night. Again, you can assume all sorts of abuse, but you don't have to.

The weretiger is a slightly different situation, but reads much more like a really unpleasant example of domestic abuse than rape in the strictest sense. She's a member of the same tribe as her 'master' and was treated as an abomination by them...her having left the tribe with him willingly actually seems like the most likely scenario. From context, it's the fact that he actually shows her any affection at all that makes her loyal to him, even though he's explicitly cruel to her and 'shares' her with the bandit chief, something she seems to be not actively objecting to (the other bandits shun her for superstitious reasons and she doesn't care about them either).

I'd call her situation appalling, and him definitely emotionally abusive, and think her being treated as just a combat encounter is messed up, but saying she's had her mind broken after being a sex slave for a long time is a bit off.

It's not great, but it's not nearly as bad as I was expecting from the description given.

Liberty's Edge

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zimmerwald1915 wrote:
Yakman wrote:
but then you realize that the queen is evil.
And then after you realize that, you go and decapitate the leadership of a section of the city she's brutalized and left for dead, leaving nothing but chaos in your wake. You don't organize or inspire people to build alternatives themselves. Nor do they. Nor can they, after your intervention. Accordingly, the eventual coup against the Queen is led by the cops (with whom the party is expected to remain allied throughout the AP), and leads to a restoration of the same power structure that permitted her rise in the first place. If this is a character arc (which it isn't, it's a plot twist), it's shallow and self-validating. If it's a thematic, ideological statement about how things ought to be, it's worse. Given the chance to reexamine it years later, Paizo tinkered with the framework in only the most minor of ways.

If you want to actually overthrow the legitimate government of Korvosa in CotCT, you really easily can. The default AP doesn't, but you can. Whether a particular PC group wants to engage in that kind of directed social change is another matter altogether and will vary from group to group.

And it's inaccurate to say that the power structure 'allowed her to rise to power'. She very explicitly violated several of Korvosa's laws in her rise to power and only got away with it because she rapidly became too personally powerful to be challenged directly. That's why the police are behind the rebellion against her: her power is held entirely illegally.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
zimmerwald1915 wrote:
Yakman wrote:
but then you realize that the queen is evil.
And then after you realize that, you go and decapitate the leadership of a section of the city she's brutalized and left for dead, leaving nothing but chaos in your wake. You don't organize or inspire people to build alternatives themselves. Nor do they. Nor can they, after your intervention. Accordingly, the eventual coup against the Queen is led by the cops (with whom the party is expected to remain allied throughout the AP), and leads to a restoration of the same power structure that permitted her rise in the first place. If this is a character arc (which it isn't, it's a plot twist), it's shallow and self-validating. If it's a thematic, ideological statement about how things ought to be, it's worse. Given the chance to reexamine it years later, Paizo tinkered with the framework in only the most minor of ways.

?

The cops aren't evil. Full stop.

You don't side with hellknights, or the queen's defaced bodyguards to institute a new tyranny. You overthrow the tyrant... and then the PCs and the DM are free to craft a coda if they want which has any future for Korvosa that they want.

And, it's been awhile, but isn't that 'leadership' which you decapitate a gang of pretty evil beings who are up to no good?

The character arc, iirc, is that you start out all 'law and order' then realize that justice is more important, and start the rebellion aimed at toppling the corrupt monarch.


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I always found Isabeela Locke from Skulls and Shackles to be perhaps the most horrific thing in an adventure path.

trigger warnings

Spoiler:

Taken at 12 - made a personal slave. Subjected to 'every cruel whim' including defacement of flesh with tattoos and having her *teeth* knocked out.

Captured by the Sahuagin - only saved due to a charm monster spell - but then taken by the chief as a concubine to the fish person.

Wears almost no clothing (gotta show off those tattoos!) and a set of wooden teeth filed to points in honor of her fishy boyfriend.

The cherry on the cake is the beefcake artwork used for her - after her bio reads like that.

Why do I find this worse that 'hook mountain massacre'? (Mind - that book had my players squirm in several spots).

Because there is almost no place where the players are going to learn all this about her - she doesn't reveal her past - she's almost pure 'evil pirate captain to show up and scare the players'. I totally get horror when it's meant to paint a backdrop to the players - and be a motivator. I mean - you feel like you need to STOP THE OGRES when one is using a knight as a paintbrush. This didn't add anything to the story and just kind of was there only for the GM.

/shrug

Hells Rebels endbook is the hands down best 'adventure in hell' I've ever read - I hope to run it for a group one day - if not and my players *ever* go to hell it will be my inspiration.

As to the new AP's for PF2? I firmly held out until I read the first volume - but they are Paizo - and awesome. My two cents.

Dark Archive

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Deadmanwalking wrote:

Reading through the Jade Regent example, it's not quite as bad as you're remembering it. There's no explicit mention of rape at all, in fact.

** spoiler omitted **

It's not great, but it's not nearly as bad as I was expecting from the description given.

I guess my imagination might take it to worse direction but while it isn't explicit... Well

Umm, are you saying this is just completely platonic?:
Development: Gangasum is usually found here at night as well, sleeping or enjoying the company of Tos Katun or one of the servant girls.

Considering Gangasum explicitly shares Tos Katun with the druid, I'm pretty sure you can get context for what "enjoying the company" means as it is his bed chamber we are talking about.

I heavily disagree on the other thing though:
Tos Katun is explicitly spelled out as concubine who has been enslaved by the druid and that druid and bandit boss sometimes share her :P And "Years of exclusion and abuse have twisted her mind" doesn't imply she is heavily traumatized? Either way, to me rape isn't just "someone violently forces themselves on you" it is also when you have no consent to give in matter and Tos Katun definitely doesn't as she is concubine and "thrall" and heavily under stockholm syndrome :P

...You see what I mean? Sure it doesn't spell it out, but it implies it really heavily :P I don't think it really makes it any better that its just heavily implied in subtext instead of directly spelled out.

I do think the Zimmerwald complaining about about APs not featuring explicitly throwing down monarchy in favor of another political system is off topic :p The skulls & shackles example given is another good example of how early pathfinder did have habit of giving really messed up tragic backstories to evil one note villains and kinda expect players not find out or care.

...Yeah I really don't mind Pathfinder not anymore depicting women forced to be concubines being twisted into evil monsters :P Though at this point I think I'm speaking to the choir as everyone seems to agree pathfinder has vastly improved in being more tasteful and mature in this regard at least

Liberty's Edge

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Ah! I missed that first line (I was looking for it, too). Yeah, that definitely makes it worse and makes the potential of rape a lot more likely and explicit. Which is unfortunate.

As for the second I still disagree:

Spoiler:
The 'Years of exclusion and abuse' seem to mostly be from her people as a whole, rather than Kamuy-Paro himself, or at least that's the way it reads immediately after the bit talking about how her people treated her. Yeah, it makes her ripe for additional emotional abuse, but I wouldn't say it's evidence of her being forced to be with him by anything but circumstance.

I also don't think it's entirely clear that she's legally his slave, either, I got more of an emotional vibe off the use of 'thrall' and concubines were actually pretty rarely legally enslaved. Not that this makes the relationship remotely pleasant, mind you.

In fact, like I said, I'd typify that relationship as deeply and horribly abusive for a variety of reasons, but at least to me it reads like she's with him, and devoted to him, not because she's been brainwashed by him or anything like that, but because her whole society has treated her so completely terribly that even the abusive relationship in question is better than being utterly alone in her eyes. Which, again, is terrible and tragic and treating her as a disposable mook is still really unpleasant, but I'm not sure rape, or even stockholm syndrome, are the best way to look at her situation.

Basically, it's a really ugly and terrible situation, but I don't think every abusive relationship inherently includes or should be considered rape.

But regardless, yeah, looking it over the fact that none of this is actually commented on and explored, and most of the victims are entirely incidental and unnamed is definitely tonally disturbing.

Dark Archive

Deadmanwalking wrote:

Ah! I missed that first line (I was looking for it, too). Yeah, that definitely makes it worse and makes the potential of rape a lot more likely and explicit. Which is unfortunate.

As for the second I still disagree:

** spoiler omitted **

Basically, it's a really ugly and terrible situation, but I don't think every abusive relationship inherently includes or should be considered rape.

But regardless, yeah, looking it over the fact that none of this is actually commented on and explored, and most of the victims are entirely incidental and unnamed is definitely tonally disturbing.

It does say she is "enslaved" though and she is kept in cages with other servant girls :P So even if "thrall" was used in emotional sense than literal one, text does heavily enforce idea that it wasn't her choice.

Either way, I don't think we need to continue this line of conversation since even if we disagree on specifics of text, we both agree it was done in really unfortunate and disturbing way and should have been handled better.

(But yeah, as I said this is main example that does actually anger me and why I get peeved off whenever someone complains about Pathfinder APs being "less adult" or "less dark" nowadays -_- It seriously handles serious subject matters better nowadays than in older days...)


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
James Jacobs wrote:
magnuskn wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:
Personally, I do hope that we can do a grim adventure or even an Adventure Path again at some point. We'll see, but the world is a different place in many ways than it was 15 years ago...
Quite honestly, I don't get that point at all. In fact, looking at the video games industry, things are more graphically violent than ever. I'd much prefer Paizo to have remained more gritty overall in its approach to its game world, although certainly not in a way to descend into narm and grimdark.

There's a world of difference between what's acceptable to society in a video game or move and what is acceptable in Pathfinder or other tabletop RPGs. We live in a world where a character like Pennywise can anchor one of the most successful r-rated horror movies of all time, but we can't use similar content in our games without uproar. The difference is that video games and movies aren't as interactive or personal as tabletop RPGs, nor as social since you aren't in the same room with the others you are playing with in a multiplayer game. The face-to-face element makes a tabletop RPG more personal, and when there's content that someone finds traumatic or objectionable or triggering or unpleasant, a fellow problem player or problem GM who's ignorance or callousness or cruelty or stubbornness can magnify the content. Furthermore, we have a very popular organized play program and "edgy" content isn't appropriate for such a mass campaign either, so when we produce things that can't or shouldn't be incorporated into PFS, that makes it more complicated for us to justify to management that the content should be produced.

I've personally had some very unpleasant and sobering and depressing interactions with folks online where content I've put into a book has traumatized or offended them, and it made me feel absolutely horrible to think that something I wrote, or more often, something that someone else wrote and I had the chance to change or soften or cut entirely but...

Alright, I can understand and accept that train of thought. Still, not a fan of the goblin cuddle-beanie-babies we have now instead of the iconic goblins from Rise of the Runelords.

Shadow Lodge

magnuskn wrote:
Alright, I can understand and accept that train of thought. Still, not a fan of the goblin cuddle-beanie-babies we have now instead of the iconic goblins from Rise of the Runelords.

I have no problem accepting that tribes living hundreds (thousands?) of miles apart would have markedly different cultural practices or dominant modes of behavior. I also have no trouble accepting the idea that goblin culture after a real national revolution (albeit led by the alliance of hobgoblin officers and industrialists who now form that nation's ruling class, and with at best a subordinate role for the goblins themselves) would develop into less grossly barbaric forms than existed when goblins were a powerless and despised people with no role in the dominant society. What I have a lot more trouble accepting is that the humans would let go their ingrained prejudices to any degree, let alone be as accepting of goblins as the humans of Breechhill are eventually shown to be. It seems like whitewashing, and bears no resemblance to how dominant groups have historically reacted to struggles for national regeneration by oppressed peoples: with terrorism either state-directed or private. That's how they reacted to the last attempt at goblin national regeneration, to which they give the name the "Goblinblood Wars." And as they were successful in their terroristic putting-down of that revolution, it hardly seems like the lesson they'd take from it would be "better not do that again."


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Well, Breachhill isn't exactly anything like the rest of Isger, and have you considered it's possible these people talked to each other like, well, people and saw that they were perfectly fine?

Not everything has to map out to some random aspect of real-world history. Sometimes it's okay when fictional characters aren't racist.

Silver Crusade

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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Grankless wrote:

Well, Breachhill isn't exactly anything like the rest of Isger, and have you considered it's possible these people talked to each other like, well, people and saw that they were perfectly fine?

Not everything has to map out to some random aspect of real-world history. Sometimes it's okay when fictional characters aren't racist.

Zimmerwald treats Golarion as Earth with some slight fantasy elements sprinkled on the top. Except on Golarion, there's a real chance of a global communist revolution toppling capitalism and bringing eternal happiness for everybody. Strangely, Paizo doesn't get the memo.

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