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Pathfinder #028: The Infernal Syndrome» Forums » Reviews

Subject: Discordant - A review after playing rss

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john Whyte
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I am having a hard time with this review. I've run the adventure and whilst it has some really good things going for it, it has some really strange choices.

Overview

This is book 4 in Paizo's first Pathfinder adventure path. There were other adventure paths (for 3.5) but this is designed for Pathfinder. It is 100 pages, full colour. The artwork is very good but there isn't as much as in current paths. Also it is the first Paizo book that I've had that the binding hasn't held up. One of the packets slipped out of the binding during use. Like these early Pathfinder adventure paths there is an adventure, several articles, and a bestiary.

The Adventure

The adventure is a large change of pace. The adventure path is an urban adventure. This is a dungeon crawl. The mayor's palace blows up, turns out he was using a pit fiend for electricity, and now its all going crazy and the players need to stop it. So it's a very large dungeon. Now I get that Dungeons are a big part of Pathfinder. But the other sections of this adventure are a plethora of roleplaying, coupled with smaller dungeons so this is a large change. Also it is quite a gonzo dungeon. The city of westcrown in other publications comes off as a mix between Venice and Gotham. So a dungeon that creates windows into planes of hell is a large change of pace.

The dungeon also has faction issues. The palace blows up, and if your players are anything like mine - fast movement to it pronto. The explosion screams adventure. Which is cool. But the dungeon itself assumes the factions have a 'head start' on the players. Which they won't. Plus the dungeon (and factions) are written as static, whereas the players are going to go in, take a rest, continue. This is a 2-3 day crawl. And it reads like there should be factions and goals, but nothing is explicitly laid out that makes the DMs life easy.

The other point is that the players went to the Mayor's mansion in Pathfinder #026: The Sixfold Trial. Which is great, so the scene is established. But the two books are not co-ordinated. They both have different art for the mayor. The two maps provided don't mesh up. And the motives of the mayor are hard to mesh.

As a result of this I rewrote the factions, had the mayor being searched for within the area, and my players (mostly) bought into it.

The dungeon itself is quite cool, if a bit funhouse. There are house cooling chambers to keep the devil imprisoned. Large capacitors. Arcing hallways. Scary mirrors. And then the funhouse. A behir. A lich shade. A medusa. It's fine as a large dungeon, and lots of fun. The puzzles that are there are actually worth thinking about. And the satisfaction of killing a pit fiend is really cool. It's not particularly challenging. I had a party of 4 players (mostly social based characters) and added 50% to the pit fiends hit points and they were still in no particular danger from my side of the scene.

If you'd given me this adventure as a stand alone I would have given it 7 or 8 out of 10. It could do more to help the DM, but its got some great encounters and ideas.

Other Articles

The first article at the back is about Possession. Possession of people, possession of objects, and possession of location. There are rules for how devils can do this, and actions they can take whilst doing this. It's a cool idea but very complicated, and I think there are better ways of doing this. Summoners, Spiritualists, and haunts are all mechanical things for a DM to use as part of the story. And if you want to possess a PC, that's problematic on a number of levels, particularly given how heroic fantasy pathfinder is. Again a nice idea, but unlikely to be used.

The next article is the Path of the Hellknight. THis article spends a little too much time on a timeline, (3 full pages) but the rest is pretty cool. We have a map of a Hellknight Citadel. A description of some citadels, and a discussion of what the Hellknights believe. Excellent read, especially if this organisation appeals.

We have a short piece of fiction that was more understandable than the last one, and again shows the 'rottenness' of the city off really well. Giving a really good corrupt, but maybe able to be redeemed feel.

Lastly we have a bestiary. 4 monsters. Only one has been subsequently reprinted. Three devils. One undead spartan.

Conclusion
I picked this up for $4. At that price I'm happy with the entertainment value. If your players aren't particularly tactically minded, and like dungeon crawling, this is a good adventure requiring minimal prep. If you have experienced players I'd strongly recommend beefing everything up.
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Azukail Games
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I thought it was a bit daft having a powerful boss - the pit fiend - then crippling it. Why not just start with a less powerful creature?
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john Whyte
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Azukail wrote:
I thought it was a bit daft having a powerful boss - the pit fiend - then crippling it. Why not just start with a less powerful creature?

\
I do get that opinion. But two of my players knew that a pit fiend = Balrog with serial numbers shaved off. So the fight was highly anticipated and had a real sense of 'that's cool!' without the players needing to be level 16+
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jodokast wrote:
It's a cool idea but very complicated, and I think there are better ways of doing this.

You've just summarised most of my Pathfinder experience in one sentence. :-)
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john Whyte
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trystero11 wrote:
jodokast wrote:
It's a cool idea but very complicated, and I think there are better ways of doing this.

You've just summarised most of my Pathfinder experience in one sentence. :-)


Probably not just you either. There's a quote I know from Civilization IV "a designer knows he has achieved perfection not where there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing he can take away". Pathfinder has some really excellent design aspects. But so much of their rules content needs to be parsed down.

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