Sign in to create or edit a product review. So, the somewhat awkwardly titled "Pathfinder Legends: Rise of the Runelords 1: Burnt Offerings" covers the first installment of that adventure path. There is no narrator, nor is there description of events or action scenes. Instead, the story is told solely through dialogue and sound effects , which means that the listener can usually get the gist of the plot but there is far, far less detail and immersion in the setting than one would get through a novelization or even reading the adventure itself.
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Runelords has everything for the traditional fantasy adventure: a village base, some wilderness adventure and a couple dungeons to explore. It All Begins Here! Each issue of the series is 96 full-colour pages and comes with 1 part of a 6-part adventure and several useful pieces of supplemental material. The back-matter fleshes out locations, monsters, NPCs, prestige classes, historical events, magic items, or almost anything else that could be in some way relevant to either the present adventure path or other adventures in the campaign world of Golarion.
Some of the supplementary articles are perfectly suitable for players to read, but others may contain spoilers of varying degrees, and thus players should always consult the GM before reading any of the issue. Before trying to track down each of the individual issues of the adventure path, which can be difficult to do since some issues are out of print apart from PDFs, keep in mind that the entire thing has been collected and updated in the Rise of the Runelords Adventure Path hardcover.
The first part of the back-matter is a thirteen page gazetteer of the town of Sandpoint, the small town on the southwest coast of Varisia where the adventure path begins. This section contains a nice map of the town with all major locations noted. The second part of the back-matter is an eight-page history of the ancient, fallen empire of Thassilon.
This section talks about the domains and rulers of Thassilon, their strange relationship with magic, the gods they worshipped some still recognized, others lost to time , and, finally, speculation on what caused the fall of the empire.
The last major section is a ten-page bestiary, introducing five new potential threats: the Sandpoint Devil, the Goblin Snake, the Sinspawn, the Attic Whisperer, and the Goblin Dog. Only two of the five appear in the adventure path and only one in a significant way. Of the five, I think the most interesting and original are the Sandpoint Devil a one-of-a-kind "cryptid" inspired by the Jersey Devil , the Attic Whisperer a really creepy idea of an undead that forms around orphanages and schools , and the Sinspawn aberrations from ancient Thassilon.
These entries are all written in to 3. I should note that I used the Anniversary Edition, but my understanding, based on the Paizo forums, is that this part is not significantly changed from the original except for the addition of one admittedly quite useful non-combat encounter.
My plan for reviewing adventures like this is to cover them just as the book does, by dividing them into separate parts. At first blush, the meta-plot might not sound all that original: an ancient, incredibly powerful wizard, is planning his return and will dominate the land until heroes rise up to stop him.
What sets this story apart, however, is the incredibly rich detail given this wizard a Runelord of ancient Thassilon named Karzoug , his minions, and his plans. Indeed, the events of this chapter are almost accidentally caused by his awakening. To this end, Nualia has started assembling an army of goblins to wreak havoc on the city, and this is the ultimate threat the PCs must stop in Burnt Offerings.
This section offers background on Nualia and her evolution from the beautiful child of the town priest into a demon-worshipping evil cleric with a monster claw for a hand! Before going further, a brief word on the artwork. Some of it is quite well-done and of the type you would still see Paizo publishing today; other bits of it are quite ugly, and has been replaced in the Anniversary Edition collection. The event is marred by a surprise attack from goblins coming from multiple points in the town and, of course, the PCs have to help repel the attack.
The one thing you and your players will take away from this chapter if not the adventure path as a whole! Instead, Pathfinder goblins are crazy, ridiculous, vicious, murderous sociopaths! Hilarious oafs one second and gruesome spree-killers the next, the way author James Jacobs has reoriented goblins really makes this chapter "pop. GMs should pay careful attention that an NPC who is presumably saved from a goblin attack is extremely important in Chapter 2, and some advance thought should be given into how to role-play him.
My only critique is that I wish the Swallowtail Festival had been fleshed out better before the attack to give some better role-playing opportunities; there are some extremely useful fan-made ideas on the forums that do this, which I really liked: content to the speeches given, rules for the festival games that are played, etc. This part is playable in a single evening and gets the adventure path off to a good start. This is actually my favourite part of the first chapter of the adventure path because it includes several standalone encounters in Sandpoint combat and non-combat that can be run organically, and for the most part in different orders, so that the GM can drop them into the campaign as necessary while still allowing plenty of time for the PCs to get to know and love their new hometown.
The mix of encounters is strong: a boar hunt that may or may not involve combat but builds crucial narrative later , dealing with a goblin commando trapped behind "enemy" lines quite gruesome, and just to my taste!
This event sets up the next part. Of course, your mileage may vary. Part Four, "Thistletop", sees the PCs venture out of Sandpoint and to an island-based goblin fortress.
Taking on Thistletop will probably require some good forethought by the PCs or multiple "brute force" expeditions. When I think of Rise of the Runelords, what sticks out to me the most is how pitch-perfect it is in tone. It is intelligent, edgy, clever, and dark, all while still allowing plenty of room for the PCs to make their mark on the world.
Inside covers: The sihedron symbol with the seven runes is not reprinted. The rather crude old goblin artwork throughout the book is completely replaced by new art. Tips for additional encounters are given. The battle maps in AP 1 are not cut off at the edges like the ones in the HC and show more as a result. Also the room numbers are all inside the rooms and not at the end of some added lines, which makes the maps look much better in AP 1.
Handout is added. The half-page illustration of Seoni vs. Koruvus fbi is exchanged for a new one. There is a new half-page illu on page 39 of the HC of Merisiel vs.
Foreshadowing the sinkhole is added. The half-page illu of Valeros and Seoni vs goblins atop Thistletop is not reprinted. The half-page illu of valeros vs Malfeshnekor is replaced with a new one. The half-page illu of Sandpoint on page 58 is replaced by a new one on page The Giant Gecko third-page illu on page 89 is not reprinted elsewhere, the rest of the Bestiary creatures are reprinted in Bestiary, Bestiary 2, Bestiary 3 and the Inner Sea World Guide. While the HC collects, expands and updates everything needed for the campaign, a lot of things mostly illustrations are not reprinted.
If you wonder what the now iconic characters looked in the past or if you want to play this in 3. List of miniatures needed for battles: 10 Goblins 54 in all 4 Goblin Dogs 13 in all 2 Skeletons.
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