We’re just over halfway through the first module in this adventure path, now. I’m pleased with how much time and fun we’re getting out of it (so far 5 sessions). It makes the price on these modules very reasonable if you calculate that out (4 hours per session for 8 sessions to complete the module = 32 hours x 4 people = 128 hours of fun for $20 or approximately $0.16/hour). It’s a better value the more players you have.
So, halfway through the first module what do I think of “Edge of Anarchy”? Mostly, I’m very pleased. We’re having fun and that is the main point. The presentation and layout and stuff is all very very good. The encounters are not all ingenious. There has been a lot of groups of “1st level warriors/thugs”. But there have been occasional good surprises as well, like the crocodile at the beginning. The thing this module has pleasantly surprised me with is the quality, quantity, and diversity of the NPC’s.
There are ALOT of NPC’s to introduce in this first module. It makes sense. It is set in a city and the players are being set up to play a major role in the politics of Korvosa. There are a lot of important people to meet at the beginning. Many of the NPC’s they are meeting now are ongoing allies/enemies through the whole campaign. What is nice, is that this cast of NPC’s is really quite deep and diverse. Each one, even inconsequential characters that end up getting killed in a single encounter, has a backstory, motivations, personality quirks, and these are up front enough that it is easy to incorporate a lot of it into the game. The effect is to create a pretty richly textured city full of personalities.
My players are definitely picking favorites among these NPC’s and making choices based on those allegiances which affect the outcome of events. So far, fortunately, they haven’t decided to try to break the module by attacking a crucial NPC, but you can see how the designers have created something that will be very different group to group based on how they choose to interact with the NPC’s presented to them. It is effective design which creates a lot of fun at the table which isn’t just another combat encounter. In fact, our games have been a lot more roleplaying and interaction than violence so far (though there has been plenty of violence as well).
My favorite NPC’s so far have all had bit parts. The prissy fencer Amin Jalento. The drunkard guardsman Grau. The brooklyn accented Cow Hammer Boys. These small roles really liven up a session and get chuckles. So much, that I can’t help throwing in my own cameos. Much hilarity was had from the story of Mad-Murphy the doomed fisherman who has survived three separate attacks by devilfish with the help of his personal god ‘Dribble’.