What AP should I go for?


Pathfinder Adventure Path General Discussion


So I have some $ free and my college buddies loved having me DM Hell's Rebels. I'm planning to run War for the Crown for another group in a few months, but I'm looking for more good options.

I'm looking for:

--Substantial RP opportunities (i.e. pure dungeon crawl bad)
--One friend doesn't like the idea of going to near-modern Earth so sadly undead necromancer Rasputin and his army of gulag zombies are out.
--Not Hell's Vengeance (I refuse to play or DM the fantasy Gestapo).
--Engaging story, everybody involved is a story junkie.
--Moderately challenging--not too easy, not a miserable slog.

Any thoughts?


Is 2e on the table?


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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

If 2e is off the table I put foreward a vote for Ruins of Azlant.
Great mystery off the bat (where are the missing colonists who vanished Roanoke style), your fellow colonists are a varied butch of personalities which work great for establishing friends, rivals, love interests and a home base for your pcs.
An interesting backstory into one of Golarions earliest civilizations and what led to its fall. A villain the pcs can indirectly interact with as early as book 1 (as he is watching the pcs through who they are fighting eyes via mind control). And a scheme to save the world from a world ending threat that will feel like always one step ahead of them until the end.
While dungeons exist (book 3 has a big one and book 5 is entirely a dungeon) they are interesting and have rp opportunities in all of them to engage the pcs.
Book 4 takes you to an underwater city and allows for all the crazyness such a place can entail and allows for a lot of added fin for the gm to enhance the experience (I added a lot to the dinner partt scene and that ended up being the highlight of the book book my pcs)
Hardest part is ita a heavy underwater ap. Just be upfront about that to rhe pcs and they will find PLENTY of items to make it not an issue


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2E is on the table, yeah! Might even be better because people got exasperated with opportunity attacks in Hell's Rebels.

My main concern with Ruins of Azlant is that dealing with the underwater stuff might be frustrating for the party, they loved the story of Hell's Rebels but they dislike micromanagement ("Mathfinder" jokes are common and not always lighthearted).

Regular interaction with the big bad sounds great though, I only had to do really minor alterations to Barzillai (I had him give himself a lot of titles and I changed the 'Thrune gifts' scene in book 2 to Bazillai's birthday party that I built up to for the first two adventures, which let the oracle ruin Barzillai's birthday party with illusions and a bunch of masks of his face (Oracle was #1 on Barzillai's s&!~ list) handed out to random citizens, causing Barzillai to go nuts with rage and call for the oracle to be boiled in oil) and he was an absolutely fantastic memorable villain, great as written already, I got to do so many dramatic evil speeches that I planned out and wrote for weeks beforehand, it was a blast. I got to give an absolutely awesome one when they busted into the temple of asmodeus, full on "YOU ARE UNWORTHY OF WITNESSING THE GLORY OF DOOM!!!" kind of thing, I had an evil laugh and lines worthy of Anubis from Stargate: SG-1...it was amazing.

I would LOVE something like that for a BBEG.


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Now, it’s obviously not finished yet, but Strength of Thousands seems to be one of the most RP-focused and combat-light paths Paizo has ever done - book 4, notably, is going to include a major diplomatic mission. It also just seems to be absolutely killer from what we’ve seen so far; I expect the rest to continue being great.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

On top of those mentioned: Fists of the Ruby Phoenix (RP opportunities galore, esp. in the second and third parts), Wrath of the Righteous (I know Mythic is broken, but the story is great and there are RP opportunities aplenty), and Ironfang Invasion (solid story, great RP chances if the players take them) all leap to mind. Rise of the Runelords and Curse of the Crimson Throne are very good possibilities as well. I was going to suggest War for the Crown but then I reread your post and saw that you already played it.


Evan Tarlton wrote:
On top of those mentioned: Fists of the Ruby Phoenix (RP opportunities galore, esp. in the second and third parts), Wrath of the Righteous (I know Mythic is broken, but the story is great and there are RP opportunities aplenty), and Ironfang Invasion (solid story, great RP chances if the players take them) all leap to mind. Rise of the Runelords and Curse of the Crimson Throne are very good possibilities as well. I was going to suggest War for the Crown but then I reread your post and saw that you already played it.

I haven't actually played War yet, it's next on the list for my Saturday group after our current pirate campaign (Captain Badass, her literally 700 year old great-granny (me) who's on the run from her family because they want to put Granny in a rest home, Granny's cat Pipsqueak, a half-dryad druid who loves animals (which, fair), her DOOM TURNIP companion, our exceedingly Prussian wizard who is essentially a crafting machine, and a levelheaded gnoll pit fighter). I am to DM, we have characters already being outlined.

I have the Wrath of the Righteous computer game, and having read the mythic rules...quite frankly the computer game does them better than tabletop by a country mile. Like, I'm actually going to do multiple runs and commit to it even though I've been playing for something like 30 hours and still barely got into chapter 3.

Thank you for the advice!


As mentioned earlier Ruins gives out a lot of kit to help with the underwater stuff. I am running this for a party, 1 elf 3 Humans. Only one does not have a swim speed, all can breath under water, 2 or 3 have freedom of movement.
It is not a major issue.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Ironfang Invasion and Tyrant's Grasp are both a lot of fun.


Haldrick wrote:

As mentioned earlier Ruins gives out a lot of kit to help with the underwater stuff. I am running this for a party, 1 elf 3 Humans. Only one does not have a swim speed, all can breath under water, 2 or 3 have freedom of movement.

It is not a major issue.

Good to know, thank you! :)

captain yesterday wrote:
Ironfang Invasion and Tyrant's Grasp are both a lot of fun.

I've heard that the ending of Tyrant's Grasp can be frustrating and there are wealth by level problems, is that something an experienced player group with a bit of DM love can fix?


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Carrion Crown is awesomesauce for RP scenarios overall, but you have to love the Gothic feel.
Strange Aeons looks like it could be pretty good with RP opportunities along with a non-traditional start.
Ironfang and Runelords are great for traditional fun. Runelords is a bit more dungeon-y but both look worthy.

Acquisitives

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Ian G wrote:
Haldrick wrote:

As mentioned earlier Ruins gives out a lot of kit to help with the underwater stuff. I am running this for a party, 1 elf 3 Humans. Only one does not have a swim speed, all can breath under water, 2 or 3 have freedom of movement.

It is not a major issue.

Good to know, thank you! :)

captain yesterday wrote:
Ironfang Invasion and Tyrant's Grasp are both a lot of fun.
I've heard that the ending of Tyrant's Grasp can be frustrating and there are wealth by level problems, is that something an experienced player group with a bit of DM love can fix?

I'm running Tyrant's Grasp and we are in the middle of Book 3.

I am running the alternative bonus progression rules and telling the guys that they don't need to strip all the enemies of every coin and piece of junk and will allow them to level reset their wealth at appropriate points.

As the player's guide describes, there's limited ability for shopping, so you kinda have to work around that... one of my players had a great character, but despite the players guide saying explicitly that gunslingers and alchemists will struggle early on, built a gunslinger / alchemist [grenadier].

He was kinda frustrated that he couldn't use all his abilities by the middle of Book 2, so we shuffled off his character for another build he'd been looking at which wasn't so shop dependent.

As for the ending... well... I think you kinda got to workshop it. Paizo wrote it in a frustrating way because they wanted to preserve parts of their canon. As a DM, you are under no such constraints.


Thanks for the advice, everyone! :)


Strange Aeons and Tyrant's Grasp are both really good APs, I've read through SA and am running TG, but they are at the harder end of adventures, at least from what I've seen. Horror AP = very difficult, at least in my experience.

**Spoilers-ish for Tyrant's Grasp**
Wealth was kind of a problem for my group, but I think you shouldn't have a problem if you keep your eye on the treasure and adjust accordingly. Don't feel afraid to just drop in stuff you know your party wants or needs. It's my first time running an AP, so I was nervous about mixing stuff up too much, and we suffered for it as a result at points.
That being said, there are super awesome rp opportunities in the AP, especially in books 1, 3, and 5, where your party get to interact with lots of people, mortal and otherwise. The books do a good job of giving enemies backgrounds which are fairly easy to spin out into conversations, especially if you play undead as not being instantly hostile.


Yakman wrote:
As for the ending... well... I think you kinda got to workshop it. Paizo wrote it in a frustrating way because they wanted to preserve parts of their canon. As a DM, you are under no such constraints.

I do have to say for this part btw that my sessions are already diverging from canon quite a bit. The Hell's Rebels game I did had Mark's socially gifted gunslinger drive a hard bargain with Cheliax, and then Ravounel "lost" massive amounts of gear that Barzillai's goons had left behind after they expired, which then turned up in Andoran, where it just so happened to slip past the very rigorous Andoren neutrality patrols and found itself in the hands of the Reclamation, who by the end of the AP took and held Westcrown and were closing in on Egorian.

In the War for the Crown campaign I'm going to be running for my buddies from ireland, we're operating under the assumption that Chelish politics suffered a holy sword playing havoc with its collective rectum. One of the PCs is a Hidden Priest who booked it from Cheliax while the booking was good and now is trying to find some advantage for his bosses in the succession crisis because Maxillar Pythareus isn't returning Hell's spam calls offering amazing bargains in exchange for gently-used souls.

So if I were to do Tyrant's Grasp redoing the ending would be within my abilities but might be time-consuming, that's my main concern.

Acquisitives

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Ian G wrote:
Yakman wrote:
As for the ending... well... I think you kinda got to workshop it. Paizo wrote it in a frustrating way because they wanted to preserve parts of their canon. As a DM, you are under no such constraints.
So if I were to do Tyrant's Grasp redoing the ending would be within my abilities but might be time-consuming, that's my main concern.

or not. depends on what you want to do. ;-)

Scarab Sages

Paizo Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Companion, PF Special Edition Subscriber; Starfinder Superscriber
Ian G wrote:

So I have some $ free and my college buddies loved having me DM Hell's Rebels. I'm planning to run War for the Crown for another group in a few months, but I'm looking for more good options.

I'm looking for:

--Substantial RP opportunities (i.e. pure dungeon crawl bad)
--One friend doesn't like the idea of going to near-modern Earth so sadly undead necromancer Rasputin and his army of gulag zombies are out.
--Not Hell's Vengeance (I refuse to play or DM the fantasy Gestapo).
--Engaging story, everybody involved is a story junkie.
--Moderately challenging--not too easy, not a miserable slog.

Any thoughts?

In general, getting the challenge level right is hard. Some groups really like the tactical and min/max aspect of the game, so Paizo adventures need to have foes that can threaten such groups. Partly to counteract this effect, I would advise you to look at some of the early APs. Since they came out before a lot of the rules hardbacks, they sometimes have less powerful foes.

After reading your first point, my thoughts went to Jade Regent. The mechanics of the caravan system aren't great, but the thing itself has a number of recurring NPCs. It does have some dungeons, but it also has a lot of wilderness and survival themes. The time among the Ulfen of Karlsgard in the second adventure could also offer some RP opportunities. Since you're avoiding pure dungeon crawls, you're unlikely to run your group of players through the Runelords trilogy, but if you do, you should know that an NPC in Rise of the Runelords is a major NPC in JR, as it's set between Rise of the Runelords and Shattered Star (so many dungeons). Another downside to this one is that the final antagonist is mostly a shadowy presence for almost the whole AP, so it could be hard for your group to nurture an appropriate level of dislike. If so, you'll need to work to make them like the NPC that they are supposed to help, kind of like War for the Crown.

Since they liked Hell's Rebels, you might consider Council of Thieves, but manage expectations so that they know it's The One About the Thieves' Guild, not The One About Fighting House Thrune. Also, you may need to improvise and invent your own material to build up potential NPCs to make Westcrown appealing. The second adventure also has a part where you could do a table read of an included script, since the characters are cast into a murder play. If you give them their lines ahead of time your group might enjoy being actors. I would say that COT is underrated relative to its potential. Has about three big dungeons (a former Pathfinder Lodge, the mayor's mansion, and the thieves' guild itself). As this was the first AP written for Pathfinder First edition, it does not end at as high a level as most APs, so that can help keep the math to a lower level.

Curse of the Crimson Throne is a fan favorite, and you should pretty much know who the ultimate villain will be by no later than the end of the first adventure. As it's largely in a city, there are lots of chances to make recurring characters. Your group sounds like they might like the Harrow deck elements, too. Depending on how much you like to improvise, you might want two Harrow decks: one for the choosing and one to stack so you can prepare a reading tailored to your group. The dungeons are mostly small for the first four adventures, but beware that the last two have really big dungeons. (Seriously, the fifth adventure is all about an enormous haunted castle. A bit like I6 Ravenloft from way back in the day. The penultimate dungeon in the final adventure is also quite large, but can be broken into hit-and-run raids. The last part of the third adventure also has a big noble house, but its size is mitigated because: 1. It's at the end of an investigation and 2. Not everyone who lives in it is fully committed to the survival of their housemates, so a clueful group can politic their way past many fights.) Of everything Paizo's ever done, this one may be the AP with the best story, TBH. Worth getting the hardcover reprint, since it tries to address some of the dungeon fatigue.

I would advise waiting on Kingmaker. It might be to your groups taste, but there's a hardcover compilation coming since the CRPG came out, so it would be better to wait on this one.


I want to PLAY COTCT. The Batman themes of that one sound freaking awesome.

I played the Kingmaker and Wrath of the Righteous CRPGs--frankly I think the tabletop of Wrath will be disappointing after the video game, it was THAT good, while Kingmaker feels like it would be better as tabletop because the balance of gameplay in the CPRG felt like it was too much adventuring and not enough/not developed enough kingdom management. But Kingmaker also sounds like a buttload of DM work, and I can't handle that in grad school.

Wrath of the Righteous and Jade Regent--I've heard the former has a good story but broken mechanics, and again after having my dhampir paladin of Sarenrae/angel of mercy romance a traumatized ex-succubus with obvious undiagnosed OCD while unleashing overpowered HEAVENLY FIRE upon the hordes of the Abyss (I so wish there were a dialogue at the return to Drezen from Alushinyraa that's just like "B****, I killed Baphomet this morning and used his blood for a power-up, you aren't even important enough for me to remember your name" before unleashing holy wrath upon the arrogant demon general), I don't think doing tabletop will be nearly as much fun.

Jade Regent I've looked into, I LOVE the travel and samurai-land themes (the Inuit inspired monsters sound SUPER cool, Native American mythologies are so underappreciated!), though I kinda wish there were more than 2 adventures in samurai land (the idea of a whole AP of bushido and katanas and intrigue just gest my inner weeb going), and I hear that it needs a lot of DM massaging + reworking the relationship mechanics + junking the caravan rules outright to work. I've heard mixed themes about having it be about an NPC more than the players--I had a great time with the NPCs in Hell's Rebels, even taking a tiefling girl who's in ONE PAGE of book 1 and is nothing more than a headshot illustration and a name, and making her the team "mascot" who goes from nobody commoner to Hellknight armiger and close friend of the Ravens, who save her and her eventual wife (my version of the AP ended with the wedding) from evil assassins twice. That was FANTASTIC stuff and I and that group had a blast. But I've heard the NPC in Jade Regent can be more obtrusive/hard to handle than Barzillai or Zea or Octavio or Shensen (who tbf I did a bit of rework on which the player whose character was her fangirl LOVED) were.

Scarab Sages

Paizo Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Companion, PF Special Edition Subscriber; Starfinder Superscriber

You have identified the flaws in JR pretty well. Although the dating sim NPC mechanic is not good, I do like the NPCs. Possibly this is because two (Shalelu Andosanna and Ameiko Kaijitsu) of them first show up in Rise of the Runelords, which I liked. In addition to various humanoid NPCs, there's a couple of celestials and a sentient magic sword, which is a bit of a classic trope. There might also be a chance to befriend a small kami in the fourth adventure, too. I will say that with work, the vikings to ninjas in the second volume could be one of those acquired tastes that turn out to be surprisingly good. Maybe not quite pineapple on pizza, but at least BBQ chicken as a pizza topping. Looking over my copy, there's not quite as much social stuff in the vikings half as I remembered. Also, Greg Vaughan is a popular author.

As to your remark about Batman, I'd warn that CotCT isn't really the full Batman experience, since early on the most likely patron for the party is the head of the town guard. Also, your characters get a public award for doing good early on. Council of Thieves has more of the secret identity vigilante feel, because there are more chances where you need to hide your activities and intentions from the authorities. Also, since the main enemy in COT is a thieves' guild, it's more of a war in the shadows while CotCT is about opposing a tyrant instead of a supervillain.

Just worth remembering that a combat-focused group has an easier time using any AP as written, since they can always just take the fights as they come. It's the more RP style that needs to adjust more, usually. I still stand by my suggestion about how the earlier APs are earlier in the system's power curve, so if you allow your characters more options, they can have an easier time.


The first four books of Strength of Thousands are now out and I want to make my recommendation even more emphatic. Book 4 is one of the best Paizo’s ever put out.


keftiu wrote:
The first four books of Strength of Thousands are now out and I want to make my recommendation even more emphatic. Book 4 is one of the best Paizo’s ever put out.

This is true, and several of the SoT volumes have support articles of NPCs for the party to meet: students, and then teachers. Also, Book 5 is gonna be lit and is so hype they had to preview blurb it twice!


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I haven't tried 2e yet, but I'll look into Strength of Thousands! I think one of my Sunday group friends would love that. That group is refusing to play 1e for a while for various reasons but is open to 2e.


Anyway, both the groups I'm in are full of queer people (possibly including myself if I ever figure out wtf is up with my gender), very left wing (Saturday group includes several outright socialists, Sunday group came out of my undergrad which sells novelty shirts with hammer and sickles over the school logo on them as a riff on its famously left-wing student body, a school where the approximately 5 token conservatives are all pro-gay marriage and support police reform but just like capitalism a lot), and like weird characters (the most normal we had on Saturday was probably a half-orc aasimar Pharasmite cleric who got whipped on-screen for allying temporarily with a non-hostile undead to stop a crazy evil necromancer who unleashed an apocalypse monster that the cleric later dropped an adamantine meteor on; on Sunday, the most normal was probably the bard who worked at the DMV in Kintargo and used a complaint about the long lines at the DMV to convince the vision-crowd to kill Vision Barzillai at the devil's bells).

Saturday group is doing War for the Crown next, I'm tweaking it a bit to make it "two morally grey people but one whose goal is really really bad for the common people, having a slap fight with the lives thousands of ordinary people" and a condemnation of Taldor's entrenched aristocratic structure. Sunday group is burned out on 1e after Hell's Rebels (various reasons--they LOVED the story but generally found the rules less appealing), but is open to 2e.

If that helps with narrowing things down. :)

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