Question regarding the overall AP


Tyrant's Grasp


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For those that have played through the AP: my group and I are finishing Kingmaker soon and I'm looking at another AP to start. I'd appreciate feedback from anyone who has played through it. Just general impressions, overall quality, etc. We are looking for something with a strong story and good role playing and combat balance. Our gold standard so far is Crimson Throne.

Also if you don't recommend TG, what would you recommend?

J


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My recommendation: Read all the reviews, especially for Book 6, before committing to TG. The potential 'ending' may or may not resonate with your group. If your gold standard is Crimson Throne, well, TG is far from that level, quality wise. Just my opinion.

I think War for the Crown has a lot of excellent opportunities for role playing, combat, even some sandboxy style stuff in County Meratt. I'd go poking through those threads, see what you think...


Yes, I've heard good things about Hell's Rebels, War for the Crown, Iron Gods, Ironfang Invasion, and Mummy's Mask.

Is your overall recommendation War for the Crown then? I'm a little leery about looking through these threads for fear of spoilers. I hope I'm not being intrusive.

J


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I haven't played or finished reading TG, but I really like what I've seen of the AP.

The ending could use some work - but that's not hard. Put the final battle in the heart of Absalom, and amp it to shreds. There are some other pointers and suggestions which you can find on the board.

For other APs:

Hell's Rebels, War for the Crown, and Ironfang Invasion will give you a good mix of role-play & combat, and all three have really strong stories which run throughout the APs.

The first 4 books of Mummy's Mask are some of the best stuff Paizo's done imho, but I think it misses hard in the last 2 books - fortunately, you can just end the campaign in Book 4 and tie a bow on it with minimal effort. if your players like Egypt, it's perfect.

Iron Gods is hit and miss. It's really a trilogy of adventures: SAVE THE TOWN; FIND THE PRINCESS; DEFEAT THE DRAGON. and if your players don't want to mix sci-fi with fantasy, that's a challenge.


JDawg75 wrote:

Yes, I've heard good things about Hell's Rebels, War for the Crown, Iron Gods, Ironfang Invasion, and Mummy's Mask.

Is your overall recommendation War for the Crown then? I'm a little leery about looking through these threads for fear of spoilers. I hope I'm not being intrusive.

J

Hell's Rebels would be another good one, too. I also liked Iron Fang Invasion, though sometimes you have to "roll with the railroad" in that one, especially at the start.

However, I think that if your GM is a bit creative, you can take War for the Crown to a whole new level, including lots of potential "post-AP" gaming. Some of the things that happen in the AP stretched my willingness to suspend disbelief, but, if your group really liked Kingmaker, I think they'd quite enjoy this one.

Without giving too much away, in War for the Crown the players are working for "the power behind the throne" (Princess Eutropia) rather than being thrust into the role of "the throne" itself. But, there is so much potential to take the AP off on tangents too. Not to mention a bit of "kingdom building" in your own little part of Taldor. AND - not everything need be solved by the sword, either - there are options where you can, with some really good diplomacy, affect your outcomes positively without having to kill everything.

Fun little endgame tidbit - HOW your party deals with various challenges throughout the AP (are they kind? are they violent? are they diplomatic? etc) will matter and set the tone for Taldor post-AP...


How similar is War for the crown to Crimson Throne? It seems like there are some parallels (having played CT but not WftC). I don't want a AP that is too reminiscent of CT, because we've already covered that ground, know what I mean?

Right now it sounds like front runners for good mix of combat and strong storyline would be War for the Crown, Ironfang Invasion, Hell's Rebels.

J


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
JDawg75 wrote:

How similar is War for the crown to Crimson Throne? It seems like there are some parallels (having played CT but not WftC). I don't want a AP that is too reminiscent of CT, because we've already covered that ground, know what I mean?

Right now it sounds like front runners for good mix of combat and strong storyline would be War for the Crown, Ironfang Invasion, Hell's Rebels.

J

It's very different.

Crimson Throne is based for most of its narrative arc in a single city (Korvosa). War for the Crown moves around in each volume.

The BBEGs are different, and for War, I think some of the best thought out and most terrifying ones that Paizo has come up with. The enemy set is also way different - most of Curse is fighting monsters, and really, you only fight monsters in one book of War - its almost entirely fighting against humans and demi-humans save for a few exceptions.

War has a fun 'relic' system where magical items get stronger as the AP goes on. The plot elements of War are really different than Curse's, and I think War makes more sense than some of the mechanical and plot failings that at least I see in Curse.

The other thing with War is that the characters are going to be RPing in every volume, up until the final showdown. Bards are worth their weight in gold. Curse has large swathes where you are just fighting monsters, so if you want to up the RP to the top level of any AP yet published, War is the way to go.


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Dissenting voice.

1) The first two volumes of this AP are solid. *Really* solid. Like, after reading, I'd really love to DM them. If you're comparing them to the first two volumes of other APs, I'd put them in the top five, maybe top three. Volume 1 starts with a "you wake up wondering what the hell happened" cold open, which has certainly been done before, but is done very well here -- and then there's a big reveal. Volume 2 is "you return to your home town, where everyone is dead because it's been hit by the magical equivalent of a suitcase nuke, and also it's Under The Dome now" plus there's another really cool reveal near the end. It's good stuff.

2) Most of the butt-hurt about this AP seems to be about the ending.

Why do so many people hate the ending?:
Because the PCs die, permanently and irrevocably. It's a heroic death -- they're fighting a mythic Big Bad who is way out of their weight class, and their death severely cripples him, and they'll be remembered forever, yadda yadda. Oh, and also they were going to die anyway -- they basically have Magical Artifact Cancer from the beginning of Book 1, though they're not aware of it until much later. But they ABSOLUTELY DIE, and they DO NOT STOP THE VILLAIN (they just take away a big chunk of his power and knock him back for a while), and a lot of people hate this.

But here's the thing: the ending is really easy to adjust, in all sorts of ways. Oh, and also it's *the ending*. It'll take (for an average group of gamers) six months to a year, or maybe more, to get there. And, you know, the real treasure is the friends you make along the way. If the AP is good to excellent up until the ending (and the first two chapters clearly are), then just handwave in a different ending. There are already several threads discussing how to do it.

Doug M.


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If you liked Curse of the Crimson Throne a lot, and your players want to DO THAT AGAIN, then sure, go with Hell's Rebels. Urban campaign, plucky rebels against an evil regime, yadda yadda.

If, on the other hand, your players want SOMETHING DIFFERENT, I would recommend:

1) Survival Horror -- Either Tyrant's Grasp or Strange Aeons. I've run Strange Aeons and I like it a lot. It's uneven -- there are places where it sags IMO -- but it has some of the best jaw-dropping WTH Moments of Awesome of any AP ever. Tyrant's Grasp, as noted above, I've only read the first two installments but they're really good -- combat, puzzles, twists and surprises, and a solid overarching storyline.

2) Politics and Intrigue -- War for the Crown, hands down. However, fair warning: there's a dramatic drop in quality from the first two modules (good to amazing) to the third and fourth (meh to okay).

3) Ultimate POWER! -- Wrath of the Righteous uses the Mythic rules, so your PCs will end up as powerful as minor demigods. Return of the Runelords isn't mythic but it takes you all the way to Level 20 and throws in some other craziness besides. If you want to explore the far reaches of the rules, try one of these two. (I'd personally choose Return, because the Mythic rules get crazy at high levels and everything turns into rocket tag, but YMMV.)

4) Sweep the Kitchen / bit of everything -- Rise of the Runelords, in the very unlikely event you haven't played it already. Otherwise Shattered Star (ties into the over-arching meta-story; it takes place between Rise of the Runelords and Return of the Runelords, and connects to both) or Reign of Winter (uneven but the good bits are great).

If you're just coming off Kingmaker, I would recommend against Giantslayer and Ironfang Invasion -- both of those are heavily outdoors / wilderness APs that in terms of actual table experience may be rather close to Kingmaker.

Doug M.


TG also gets pretty bleak(although that could be the intended goal) with the PCs fates. Not only has their past gone,(home destroyed, everyone dead) but also their future. The original ending means that they will never be able to rebuild the town one more time, never have a family, never travel to other lands or even join the town in the Graveyard. Just nothing. I actually had a PC idea where (after book 5) basically 'erase' themselves via mind altering magic. They are still in play, but through things like 'Modify Memory' and so on, they effectively become a living construct that carries out the mission to deliver the McGuffin. Since if they become nothing at the end, they might as well get a head start so they don't panic/get angsty.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Pawns, Rulebook Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

My group has just started Book Two, and while so far I am really enjoying the intensity and the edge of desperation in the players and characters both, I have to say: this one is brutal. I chose to make my PCs mythic at the end of Book Two, and even with a mythic tier (and a 5-player table to boot!) they are still getting knocked around hard. Character death should be considered a very real possibility. I advise you to proceed accordingly.


I think Paizo wanted to do something memorable for the last 1e AP, and I think they succeeded. Also, I suspect they assumed that after 10 years of 1e, most players would be tolerably experienced, so they thought they could ramp up the difficulty a bit.

BTW, I've now read through Books 3 and 4. Book 3 is a dip in quality from excellent to OK/good -- but it hands the PCs a huge WTF moment 2/3 of the way through. (Note: In the confrontation with that particular sub-boss? I would have the tremor hit a couple of rooms before the PCs meet him, and then I would totally have him do the Watchmen / Ozymandias "I did it five minutes ago". Yeah, it's not actually him pushing the button, but he's giving the green light to the Big Bad.) Otherwise, Book 3 isn't bad, but the first half does get pretty railroady and that's a thing.

-- BTW: someone on another thread was fussing that Tar-Baphon is a boring villain. Are you frickin' kidding me? Given what happens in books 2 and 3, your players should HATE HATE HATE this guy. The clear thrust of the AP is that the players should be willing to throw themselves at TB in order to take him down, and... yeah? I should think?

Finally, I absolutely love that Book 4 focuses on compassion and kindness. There are a bunch of encounters that become -- mechanically -- easier or more manageable if the PCs behave like no-kidding Good Guys, not just murderhobos who've reluctantly decided to accept a "G" in the alignment box. I salute whoever thought of that. One, it provides a really cool and well thought out contrast to this AP's general atmosphere of confusion, desperation, and survival horror. And two, if the players play into it, I think it would really add a lot.

Doug M.


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Douglas Muir 406 wrote:


-- BTW: someone on another thread was fussing that Tar-Baphon is a boring villain. Are you frickin' kidding me? Given what happens in books 2 and 3, your players should HATE HATE HATE this guy. The clear thrust of the AP is that the players should be willing to throw themselves at TB in order to take him down, and... yeah? I should think?

It's like if you watched Star Wars and saw the Death Star blow up planets, but any scene involving actual conversations or character moments fom Darth Vader and Grand Moff Tarkin were cut. The Empire is obviously despicable and massively dangerous, but we'd be given no *personality* to hang it on. Tar-Baphon is a big fat cipher, a Generic Doomsday Villain without even the entertainment value of offering sadistic taunts. He's a villain that Paizo's been hyping for years, but I couldn't offer any new insights on his character after reading the whole adventure path dedicated to him. 'Scariest lich hates everything, has magic nuke' may be impressive, but it's not *interesting* on its own.


Revan wrote:
Douglas Muir 406 wrote:


-- BTW: someone on another thread was fussing that Tar-Baphon is a boring villain. Are you frickin' kidding me? Given what happens in books 2 and 3, your players should HATE HATE HATE this guy. The clear thrust of the AP is that the players should be willing to throw themselves at TB in order to take him down, and... yeah? I should think?
It's like if you watched Star Wars and saw the Death Star blow up planets, but any scene involving actual conversations or character moments fom Darth Vader and Grand Moff Tarkin were cut. The Empire is obviously despicable and massively dangerous, but we'd be given no *personality* to hang it on. Tar-Baphon is a big fat cipher, a Generic Doomsday Villain without even the entertainment value of offering sadistic taunts. He's a villain that Paizo's been hyping for years, but I couldn't offer any new insights on his character after reading the whole adventure path dedicated to him. 'Scariest lich hates everything, has magic nuke' may be impressive, but it's not *interesting* on its own.

Maybe he gets more interesting in 2E.


Revan wrote:


It's like if you watched Star Wars and saw the Death Star blow up planets, but any scene involving actual conversations or character moments fom Darth Vader and Grand Moff Tarkin were cut.

It's more like you're John Wick and Tar-Baphon killed your dog AND burned down your house AND killed your parents and everyone you ever loved right back that girl you had a crush on in first grade AND then got elected President.

In the first module of this AP, the PCs have to convince all their loved ones that they're really dead. Then they spend all of the second module fighting through the irradiated, haunted ruins of their home town, laying ghosts and confronting heartbreaking memories. Then in the next module, when they go to get help from The Authorities, the lich blows up THAT town and they get to spend another couple of sessions rescuing the traumatized survivors, including fighting off an AP+5 monster that the lich has sent to finish the job basically out of pure meanness. Oh, and now he's busted out of his Evil-In-A-Can prison, so he's basically won.

Alderaan gets 30 seconds of screen time. By the end of Book 3, your players will have spent something like 50 hours of table time having their noses rubbed in one horrific aftermath after another. Will they really need "the entertainment value of offering sadistic taunts" in order to hate this guy?

Doug M.


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Douglas Muir 406 wrote:

Alderaan gets 30 seconds of screen time. By the end of Book 3, your players will have spent something like 50 hours of table time having their noses rubbed in one horrific aftermath after another. Will they really need "the entertainment value of offering sadistic taunts" in order to hate this guy?

Doug M.

Regarding books 1 to 3, I've got not much to say, except that the set up of book 1 should somewhat "pay off" in later books, yet does not contribute. If the Pc woke up, without memories, at level 5 in the middle of their nuked village, not much would change storywise in the later books.

My problem is with book 4 and going on.

My problems:

The "survival horror theme" is somewhat lost to the "npc gives quest" to allow her to fight the Bbeg, which is an almost pure dungeon crawl with few roleplay opportunities. When get a good scenario in the end, yet it's not conclusive since the fate of some npc was purposely left vague to have them in pathfinder 2, but its lacking in this story as a self contained entity.

Book 5 is actually worse, since they get a "no save teleport" away from the setting in order to gain, at first, basically no true gain or information. While this happens, Lastwall gets broken and decimated, conveniently while the Pcs are not there, unable to interfere, or - to better explain myself - to stand their ground. This is done to allow the pc, at least once in this campaign, to relax ... but to me it's at the cost of immersion in the story.

Book 6 it's strange, cause it forces the group to go fight another war into another land, with the only purpose of "be around when Baphon nukes something". The first part of this book is puzzling, and the dungeonclawn is directionless, since they could simply destroy the gateway and teleport to Absalom. The war itself is just three to four fights, with only 2 cool enemies before the Tyrant actually fights back, in a scenario which should not allow for it's defeat, due to mythic powers and no save paralysis.

The setting of Lastwall is almost abandoned, and named npc from there almost disappear in exchange of 2 groups which are given too few time to shine.

Upon all of this, the Pc are not given any chance to interact with the final villain, even after it's proven to them how, by some kind of cosmic accident, then and Baphon are in a similar situation with shield shards inside them. Which is realistic ... except that, in many campaign, we were given ways to allow some kind of interaction for the explicit purpose to allow your DM to actually roleplay the character.

These are the motivation that, to me, make this great, desperate epic lackluster in delivering it's ending.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Regarding the last part of your spoiler,

Spoiler:
What other APs let the players interact with the BB before the final fight? Aside from say CotCT.


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Rysky wrote:

Regarding the last part of your spoiler,

** spoiler omitted **

Talky talk:

Runelords offers a few chances with Karzoug via the Runeforge and his images for some epic speeches. 'You have no chance, make your time.'

Skull and Shackles has opportunities to talk with Bonefist at the pirate council and Harrigan is there in the first book so the PCs can see how he operates.

Council of Thieves has one of the Drovange siblings to meet and even ally with while her brother is a cipher.

Reign of Winter? Baba Yaga is there in the final book to get a lore dump

I've heard that Ironfang Invasion gives the PCs a chance to even talk down the last bosses and maybe work something out.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Phillip Gastone wrote:
Rysky wrote:

Regarding the last part of your spoiler,

** spoiler omitted **

** spoiler omitted **

*nods*

Spoiler:
Though Baba Yaga isn't the BB of RoW, and for Ironfang Invasion you can, but it's the final encounter of the AP, it's not multiple encounters leading up to it.


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Rysky wrote:

Regarding the last part of your spoiler,

** spoiler omitted **

Off the top of my head...:
Karzoug possesses Mokmurian and his statue in the Runeforge to taunt the players in Rise of the Runelords. Hell's Rebels is about as built around interacting with the villain as Curse of the Crimson Throne is. Iron Gods makes particular note of Unity conversing with the party during their explorations of the Silver Mount.
Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

*nods*

Spoiler:
Thankies, my brain latched on to interact as "physically be around" like Illeosa. But then that raises the questions of why Baphy would know/interact with the PCs.


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My take:

Spoiler:
I think part of the point of TB is that he *doesn't* stoop to interacting with the PCs. They're insects, beneath his notice. Arrogance is one of TB's few defining characteristics; if I were running this AP, I would emphasize the hell out of it.

As for the other points, I'm about halfway through Book 4 and yeah it's fun but it lacks the immersive survival-horror intensity of the first half. Reading through it, I'm starting to suspect that TG may be one of those APs that has 4 or 5 books worth of story spread out over 6 books.(See also: Serpent's Skull, Mummy's Mask, Skull and Shackles.) There don't seem to be enough plot beats left to sustain two and a half more books. If that's so, then the real plot driver becomes "the PCs must grind until they're high enough level to survive a few rounds in the ring with the Big Bad." And if "that's* true, then okay, I start to see why people are annoyed.

Doug M.


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Oh I just reached the end of Book Four.

Ah okay.

Spoiler:
So much wrong here. Arazni is disappeared without any resolution. The PCs are no-save teleported away. The conclusion with the BBEG is diverted into a social challenge, which... it's actually a well-crafted social challenge, and I love how it ties back to the earlier episodes of mercy and compassion, but it's still a sudden unexpected shift.

It's RAILROAD WOOO CHOO CHOO right down the tracks, with the PCs being first yoinked into an ending they weren't expecting and then yeeted by a powerful NPC who promptly dies an obnoxiously inconclusive death.

I get what they were trying for -- the whole theme of this adventure path is that you can't beat Tar-Baphon; all you can do is minimize the damage, help the innocent, and maybe take a divot out of him in the final act. I got no problem with any of that. Clearly they were trying to do Pathfinder: Rogue One. THAT'S FINE! That's a cool idea!

But this is straight-up bad.

Doug M.


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Stuff for:

I believe Paizo missed a big chance for having the end be a confrontation at the Starstone Cathedral. Right at the doorstep of divinity, the PCs have to try to hold TB back long enough for the fuse to run down and then BOOM! Having the Starstone go 'Yep, you guys qualify' and make the PCs fledgling demigods would be a perfect ending with them being both out of play and making a mark in the 2nd edition by doing their portfolios


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Phillip Gastone wrote:
** spoiler omitted **

i think they have different requirements than a DM.

Spoiler:
A DM can blast Absalom to hell, elevate his PCs to divinity, and epic the shnikes out of this final battle.

That's what I would do - Undead Horrors from the Negative Energy Plane and the ancient demiplanes of the Runelords of Gluttony breaching the walls of Absalom and destroying the city, eating and consuming everything.

The PCs have to team up with the diverse cast which lives in Abaslom (all the Pathfinder Society Captains! Stat them up how you want!) in a day of nightmare combat as DOOM! crashes into the city.

The the worndown, beaten up, exhausted PCs believe that they have defeated the invasion... and then the second wave comes, the real spear, led by Tar Baphon himself.

the finale, as you said, HAS TO TAKE PLACE AT THE STARSTONE CATHEDRAL.

Right there on the broken bridge, the heroes make a final stand against the Whispering Tyrant. And yeah, BOOM! it. Blow Absalom to pieces. And in the end, the Cathedral opens its doors and the surviving PCs (do they survive?) enter the gates....

A DM can do that.

Paizo has to have 2nd Edition. It has to maintain canon. And they don't want to destroy the centerpiece of their campaign setting, or elevate PCs to divinity.

I mean, I think it would be cool for 2nd Edition to have the ruined Absalom as the start - even more since it seems like APs 2 & 3 are based on the Island of Kortos & Abaslom, respectively. But... I have sympathy.

just a thought.


Regarding the ending, I've proposed a very long and tedious rewrite of book 6, if anyone is interested.


What's killing me is, there's greatness here. Pathfinder: Rogue One is an inherently cool high concept. And up until the last part of Book Four, they're pulling it off, they're making it work. And then it jumps the rails.

Yes: this makes me itch all over to *fix it*.

Doug M.


Doooooooo etttttt!


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Pnakotus Detsujin wrote:
Regarding the ending, I've proposed a very long and tedious rewrite of book 6, if anyone is interested.

you don't have to rewrite anything. the first 2 parts of the book are pretty cool. as for the third, the heart of it is really good.

Spoiler:
You just have to move it from being in the Cairnlands to being within the walls of Absalom.


Yakman wrote:
Pnakotus Detsujin wrote:
Regarding the ending, I've proposed a very long and tedious rewrite of book 6, if anyone is interested.

you don't have to rewrite anything. the first 2 parts of the book are pretty cool. as for the third, the heart of it is really good.

** spoiler omitted **

I've nevertheless found a few inconsistency which I've pointed out, starting with the easily skippable part 1 of the whole book.


To loop back to the OP's question:

-- The first two books are excellent. They're rather challenging, so you may want experienced players, or to give your players some advantage or edge. But they're really good.
-- The next two books are uneven but include some excellent bits, and are easily improved.
-- The last two books are a hot mess, but still fixable.

Overall it's Pathfinder: Rogue One, with scrappy outmatched PCs struggling to salvage something from disaster. That's not to everyone's taste, but if this is the sort of thing your players might like, it could be a really unique and interesting experience.

Doug M.

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