Friday, March 10, 2017

Borrowing from Paizo, part II

Let's have a quick look at the rest of the Adventure Paths and see if any of the rest of them sound like something I might want to remix.  By now, I have to admit full on that we're wandering into territory that's uncharted for me, because I stopped paying very much attention to Paizo at some point close to the break point between the material covered in my last post and the material covered in this one.  I'll have to comment much less on any familiarity with the actual modules and their details and much more so on just the summaries posted on their webpage.

Reign of Winter.  Baba Yaga was supposed to show up as she always does, but she didn't, and now winter is spreading from the eternal (supernatural) winter beyond the borders of Irrisen.  Has someone made a power play for Baba Yaga's throne and set in motion a wintry catastrophe?  Gates from Irrisen to other parts of the world seem to be spreading winter.  The PCs, looking for a missing damsel in distress find one.  Turns out Baba Yaga is missing and her hut is on display in Irrisen's capital.  PCs go on a bunch of linked quests to try and find her, exploring first the capital city Whitethrone, then teleporting to another continent (Casmaron) where they fight winter centaurs and frost giants, then to another planet in the solar system where winter lasts for decades where they are expected to take sides in some war or other, and then they... and I wish I were making this one up, but I'm actually not... go to Russia in 1918 where they have to fight Bolsheviks and find Baba Yaga, imprisoned by her estranged son Rasputin.  Then finally Baba Yaga's hut itself is a giant, mystical puzzle dungeon that they have to go through fighting all kinds of characters and whatnot.  Not only is the weird geographical hopping (including to historical Earth) not really my cup of tea, but making Baba Yaga a damsel in distress just seems incredibly odd to me.  That said—there's surely something that can be made with crazy winter witches trying to lock the world in another ice age.

Wrath of the Righteous.  For this, the PCs get to be crusaders fighting against the Worldwound; a permanent portal to the Abyss that turned the former nation of Sarkoris into a beachhead for demons.  In fact, right off the bat, the city that the PCs is in has fallen; the magical Wardstone that protects it has failed, or something.  The city is occupied and crazy, and the PCs have to get out, join with some other refugees (who supposedly need protecting or something) then start being the elite strike team that goes on missions to the Worldwound.  Looking for McGuffins.  Then they make an incursion to the Abyss itself, where they have to be railroaded into making deals with the demons, rescue the herald of some goddess, and maybe even close the Worldwound completely.  I dislike how "save the world" quests have become de rigueur for Paizo.  This one is also clearly a "superhero" AP.  Although I could potentially utilize some of its most basic ideas. the execution is in most respects the complete opposite of the direction I've gone with my gaming.

Mummy's Mask.  Some tyrant pharaoh of the ancients is pissed off that his tomb was robbed and wants to be reborn or reanimated or something and take over the world.  Sigh.  This one starts off with a dungeon crawl with a rival party of adventurers (a purely D&D convention that resembles nothing else anywhere) and eventually end up having to deal with an incursion of undead.  Racing cultists this time.  Then they have to wander around in the desert to find a pyramid (i.e. another big dungeon) with yet more cultists who don't want them poking around.  They finally defeat the cult, but realize that they've been chumps because in so doing, they've managed to reanimate the pharaoh in another part of the country, who's now awake and attacking Osirion with his flying pyramid (?! Echoes of "we wuz kangz" crap here, I guess.) After the PCs bring down the flying pyramid, they have to explore it and face the pharaoh.  Crap, doesn't the cliche ever get tiring to Pathfinder players?  I mean, seriously—every AP sounds exactly the same to me, except with changes in character names, scenery and specific monsters.  And every one of them requires the PCs to be a bunch of sheep going to market in a rail car.

Iron Gods.  Just like every other AP except this is the "Barrier Peaks" rip-off.  Numeria is where a space-ship crashed a long time ago, and there's apparently still robots and lasers to be claimed.  Bandits looking to scavenge alien tech feature prominently, except then they find that an "Iron Lord" is awake and on the move—an AI that somehow can grant worshipers access to divine spells.  More dungeons.  Mi-go brain collectors.  Then they go fight the king of Numeria (the Black Sovereign) so that they can access a major "Barrier Peaks" style robot and laser dungeon complete with a virtual reality.  Sigh.  This one, despite it's high tech veneer seems like among the most hum-drum collection of dungeon-crawls that we've seen in some time.

Giantslayer.  A storm giant has a flying castle and some other cool stuff that he wants to get out of some dungeon or other.  He starts off by wanting to conquer the orc nation and then wants the rest of the world...  which the PCs will, I presume, see fit to save from such a horrible fate.  This AP starts off with some orc raiders attacking their town, but they quickly have to take a riverboat into orc country to defeat a hill giant fortress.  Then they investigate a giant tomb, and graduate to more impressive types of giants in the mountains, finding that all are pointing towards some big giant recruitment drive.  For some reason, they ally with a red dragon and attack some undead, frozen giant guys.  They then graduate to a fire giant dungeon in a volcano, over which the storm giant head honcho himself is hanging out in a flying castle with an enslaved dragon pet (we wuz kangz again!)  This seems to be a reworking of the Against the Giants classic module series in a way, except with more dungeons, it's way too long, and the cliche scenario is almost exactly the same as every other AP that Paizo has done.

Hell's Rebels. The evil, right-wing devil-Nazi nation of Cheliax will no longer tolerate its Greenwich Village "artists", "freethinkers", and micro-aggressed and declares martial law!  The PC's must don black hoodies and join the righteous antifa by attacking innocent old ladies, setting fire to cars, and chanting, "Not my president!"  Sigh.  Maybe I should have quit while I was ahead yesterday.  But that does, actually describe the first module in this adventure path.  Sadly.  Then, the PCs get serious and find Bill Ayers' group, except that instead of a bunch of pathetic idiots, for some reason they're perfectly poised to be effective—as soon as the PCs find them, of course.  Then in a glorious revolution not seen since the Bolsheviks murdered millions in Russia and the Jacobins in France, they take the city of Kintargo from the oppressive Lord-Mayor who threatened the people with the prospect of needing to get a job if they wanted to have access to money.  Shocking!  Then, the PCs must undertake a thrilling adventure of lawfare against the federal government of Cheliax to accommodate their Kintargexit strategy.  But they have to go into a dungeon in Hell to defeat some leftover bad right-wing plots or something on their way to securing their place permanently as the heroes of a glorious, socialist utopia.  This is—needless to say—literally the very last adventure path that I could ever consider doing anything with whatsoever.

Hell's Vengeance.  In a move that is admittedly kind of clever, in a kitschy kind of way, the sequel or perhaps parallel story to the trainwreck above is the story of the Glorious Revolution... I mean, Reclamation, and how the basket of deplorables PCs must thwart it, in the first "evil" campaign Paizo ever did.  Putting down a local uprising of violent and dangerous rioters and looters, the PCs are clearly now so evil that they are made official agents of the infernal House of Thrune and must defeat more terrorist cells across Cheliax.  But first, there's this odd portal to Hell that needs to be closed, or maybe taken control of instead.  They go to Erdogan, the capital, but the Queen exercises her feminist privilege and refuses to be impressed, or even see the heroes who have been saving her Empire for her until they thwart an underground railroad and complete a sacrifice that is really her responsibility, I'd think, since it ensures her continued presence on the throne.  This entitled brat... I mean, self-styled feminist "queen" then gives the PCs "permission" to continue saving her empire by going on and defeating the October Revolution once and for all.  Sigh.  Paizo really went full SJW.  Maybe I was wrong earlier, and this one is the last one that I could possibly consider running.  Maybe.

Strange Aeons.  I might be able to do something with this adventure path—the first and only I think from this half.  As you might guess from the title, this is the adventure path of Lovecraftian horror.  The PCs wake up in an asylum, without their recent memories.  They find that the asylum is under attack by cosmic horrors and must deal with that first.  Escaping to the nearby town of Thrushmoor, they find that some cult is trying to sacrifice the inhabitants, and they have to stop that too. Once the threat of cultists of Hastur are resolved, the PCs take a river boat to para-Constantinople to find their last employer in their quest to recover their memories.  This is where it goes a little weird and the PCs voyage to the Dreamlands. They then travel to exotic Qadira to find Count Lowls, who's revealed once their memories are returned, as the mastermind behind all this madness.  They travel into the Parchlands (an admittedly kinda cool name) where they find a hybrid between 'Ib' and 'The Nameless City', making two more Lovecraft in-jokes, and then perform some ritual to follow Lowls to Carcosa.  Here, they have to sever the ties between Carcosa and Golarion, the Pathfinder setting, to keep Thrushmoor from being stolen and drawn to Carcosa and to keep the King in Yellow from coming to Golarion.

I'm going to stop there without doing the next two, both because I'm just weary of Paizo after this review, and because although the next two are announced, they really haven't come out yet, except for the very first chapter of the next one.  I don't know that there's anything I'm likely to get out of the next two anyway—one is a hobgoblin invasion story, and one is exploration of para-Atlantis, including a Roanoke colony kind of story or something.

Of all that I listed here, the Strange Aeons path is the only one that I'm really very interested in, and it just finished up last month.

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