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The Moonscar» Forums » Reviews

Subject: Did you know this was on the Moon? rss

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Merric Blackman
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The Moonscar is the latest addition to the Pathfinder Modules range; a 32-page adventure by Richard Pett for 16th level characters. Delightfully, it is set on Pathfinder’s moon! I’ve long been a fan of lunar tales, with two works of my youthful reading being especially important: Doctor Dolittle in the Moon and Wells’ The First Men in the Moon. Add to that a lot of reading of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Martian tales, and I was quite eager to see what Richard Pett - one of my favourites of Paizo’s authors - had done with the adventure.

As I’d expect for a Pathfinder adventure, it takes a dark approach to the setting, with the part of the moon being described - the titular Moonscar - being an Abyssal blight on the moon, inhabited by a Queen of Succubi and her court. As the adventure starts, a gate has been opened between the earth and the moon, and the Queen is sending her minions through to kidnap important people, whom she will brainwash and send back as her slaves. The adventure is designed to be used by players who have finished an adventure path (thus having high-level characters), and a list of important NPCs from the adventure paths is given so that the players might have a more personal reason for following up on the problem. The module works quite well as a stand-alone as well, with the Pathfinder Society providing an alternative entrypoint.

The first section of the adventure takes in the demonic lunar jungle. Actually travelling into the jungle proper is quite dangerous (a Fort save every minute due to the thorny, poisonous undergrowth), but the demons have used a servant to clear a path from the Queen’s tower to the gate, and the players will be able to make their way to their destination directly. Unfortunately, this has the effect of making the exploration of the lunar surface relatively linear, and the actual encounters are all combats; there isn’t enough of an exploration aspect to this section.

A few notes are given for effects of the changed lunar environment on the characters; aside from various Abyssal effects on spell-use, the lower gravity allows greater ranged attacks and jumping distances, although character speed is not increased as they’re unfamiliar with the lesser gravity. It’s a conservative approach to the topic, but it won’t disrupt balance significantly, nor cause difficulty with rulings; this is something that I appreciate.

The wonder of the lunar landscape, poorly realised as it has been, is exchanged in the second and greater part of the module for the Insatiable Queen’s tower, and the tunnels below. It’s a nicely realised dungeon, although I fear a party will easily overcome most of the threats within. When I see four CR 10 monsters facing a 16th level party, I expect the party to win easily. Monsters are drawn from the first three Bestiaries, so you’ll need them handy or a link to the PRD as the full stats are not given. A few have minor changes that are noted in the text.

The actual details of the Queen’s home are vividly realised, and I very much appreciate the thought that has been given to her surroundings. Some of the inhabitants are far weaker than the player characters, but it’s the potential they have for seduction and entrapment of the unwary that makes them interesting. The cumulative effect of all the encounters here is likely to have an attritional effect on the party that makes up for their otherwise weaker stats; the party is most likely going to need magic to protect themselves when they rest.

The unique monster stat-blocks seem appropriate to their challenge ratings, although the Queen herself has exceptionally high defenses; you’ll be better served by hitting her with weapons than casting spells at her, and even then it’ll be a tough fight. A few of the spell DCs are particularly high (thanks in part to the Abyssal taint). A DC 28 against a Hold Monster spell seems very tough indeed, and freedom of movement is likely to be a very important ability, especially with quite a few monsters with the grab ability.

There is one new monster presented in this adventure, the Somalcygot, a creature that is adapted for space. I was quite amused to see it is vulnerable to sonic damage (no sound in space... well, normal space, that is; I’m not sure about how it acts in the Pathfinder world!) It’s not a particularly inventive monster, functioning mostly as a brute and to provide something new to fight on the moon.

Overall, it’s an entertaining adventure. I really would have liked to see more of the lunar wilderness, and it makes much less use of the setting than it should; you could easily place this in the Abyss and not notice much difference. This, for me, is the sign of a missed opportunity. So, a fair adventure, but one that could have been more.
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Non Sequitur
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Certainly sounds like a missed opportunity. Any references to the moon as a symbol of fertility or the passage of time or whatever? Adventures don't need to shoot for high literature, but... seems like a shame to ignore werewolves and tides, fergodssake.
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