It has been way too long since my last entry in this journal. I have infinite excuses. I will spare you.
Tonight we are concluding the 4th book in the adventure path “A History of Ashes.” This makes it a good time for a bit of retrospective analysis on the series so far.
As was apparent from the first 15 posts in this journal I am very impressed with Pathfinder as a whole and with the Curse of the Crimson Throne adventure path in specific. Book 1 was a solid B+ beginning. It introduced us to the city, contained some great NPC’s and a memorable roof chase sequence which my players still talk about. It’s downsides were that it was more or less a cliche series of quests for a patron. It could have done much more with the chaos in the city. Still a mile ahead of any other module I’d ever read or run up to that point.
Book 2 “Seven Days to the Grave” blew the first chapter right out of the water, and probably set a standard that the rest of the campaign will not be able to live up to. It is a definite A+. Great characters. Great mood. Creative encounters. Exciting plot. Nothing bad to say about this really.
Book 3 “Escape from Old Korvosa” was a major letdown after the second outing was so superb and will probably be the nadir of the campaign when we’re finished. The story didn’t give you very good reasons for being in conflict with the major badguys of the book. The Arkonas were interesting, but tangential to the main interests and concerns of the party. The Vivified Labyrinth which provided the climax of the campaign was a throwback to old-school trap-infested dungeons. There is a reason these dungeons are “old” school. A long sequence of nearly unavoidable “save or take tons of damage” situations isn’t very fun. It might have been interesting if the dungeon had been a puzzle that could be solved, or a series of challenges that could be creatively overcome, but it wasn’t. Still, this module was a step above anything non-Pathfinder I’ve ever run: C.
Book 4 “A History of Ashes” has been a major return to form. Some people in the forums have complained that it is too big a divergence from the main plot, but my group found it a welcome change of pace to be out in the harsh wilderness instead of the rapidly decaying city. The encounters have been creative, the NPC’s are excellent and perhaps most impressively – the Cinderlands are a very interesting and well detailed ecosystem that in and of itself has been the source of a lot of fun. I have had the terrain itself serving as a major character in the game and the players have simply loved avoiding stampeding herds of Auroch’s, or raging Emberstorms, or explosive Rockfire. This wasn’t quite the apogee of moody goodness that was Book 2, but close: A.
We move into Book 5 “Skeletons of Scarwall” next. I am both excited and apprehensive. It has the obvious failing of being one giant dungeon crawl, but it is one of the most clever and interesting dungeon’s I’ve encountered and chock full of creeptastic encounters. I am definitely running this one for maximum horror. We’ll see how it goes.