A Review of Pathfinder Adventure Paths Pt2
In the first part of this series I looked at the two Pathfinder adventure paths I had played the furthest in. They were Council of Thieves and Curse of the Crimson Throne. In this part, I would like to review two other paths I have started. Please note that most of these reviews are based on less than two books into the adventure path.
Played: The Haunting of Harrowstone
Party: Paladin, Wizard (necromancy), Rogue, Cleric (Cayden Cailean) / Bard (Me)
Background: In the nation of Ustalav the renowned Professor Lorrimore has passed away. The players are adventurers Lorrimore has crossed paths with previously and letters have been sent asking them to be pallbearers at his funeral. Lorrimore’s last wishes are for the players to stay for a time with his daughter, who is devastated after her father’s apparently accidental passing. But all is not well in the small town the professor and his daughter resided in.
Unlike some other adventure paths the player’s guide truly prepares the players for the adventure path. It is well written and Ustalav has a northern Germany or Russia feel to it.
Story: While the premises for coming to and staying in the town of Ravengro are pretty flimsy in some cases it is worth the suspension of disbelief. I loved the story, and the dungeon to be found there. The mood is well crafted and the villains are fearsome. Playing Haunting of Harrowstone is very cinematic, and once the players truly begin the mystery, there is little choice but to continue on down the rabbit hole.
Overall: I really enjoyed this adventure, and I can’t wait until my group rolls back around to this path so we can continue. Part of that might be the enjoyment of playing a cleric of The Drunken Hero, but the macabre mood and edgy story drew me, and the rest of my party, right in. Also, it’s nice to not be in Varisia. I give this path 9/10. Good dungeon, good villains, good setting, great mood, but with a flimsy premise.
Recommendations: If you don’t have someone that can channel positive energy you might be in some trouble here.
Played: The Stolen Lands, Rivers Run Red (incomplete at the time of writing)
Party: Fighter, Cleric (Iomedae), Rogue, Ranger (Me)
Background: With a civil war brewing between two parts of a powerful nation, the weaker side is handing out charters for adventurers to explore the wild, uncontrolled expanse to their south.
The player’s guide has some good advice to help players make characters that will have a hand in both the running of their budding nation and adventuring within it.
Story: The exploring takes the centre stage here. The story is not particularly exciting and the dungeons are kinda “meh”. But…the exploring is a lot of fun. Starting in part 2 when the players become the rulers of their own nation (sorry for the spoiler) the story of their nation starts to form. There is one big bad guy, and a bunch of side quests to keep adventurers busy.
Overall: If your players go the wrong way exploring they will be running from about half the fights, while when they get around to going the “easy” way the fights will be without a challenge. This is a real design flaw of the module. When the kingdom system gets introduced in Rivers Run Red the players had better do some serious reading and maybe some online research on how it works or they will find their nation quickly falls apart. The system is very difficult to make work; I might even go so far as to say badly designed. And, the side quests punish you brutally if you don’t deal with them right away, and even punish you a little if the players leave right away and handily succeed. On top of that I have found our sessions of Rivers Run Red brutally boring, I have even drifted off during one.
Between the design flaws in map balance in the first book and the highly un-user friendly system in the second book I am having a hard time given this path a passing grade. There are some great npc’s, although my GM is great and really brings them to life, so that might be a function of him. Overall, I give Kingmaker a 5/10. I do, however feel this may change as we proceed with the path.
Recommendations: Pick a different adventure path if you really want to play a D&D game. If you do want to play this path, bring your wild class person (Barbarian, Ranger, Druid). My favoured enemy Human was huge in the first book.