Monday, March 9, 2009

Review: Pathfinder #5 Sins of the Saviors

What if the players had to use evil things to defeat the bad guys? Does the means justify the ends? Interesting question. In a game setting, maybe it is not much of moral dilemma. In real life, this is a completely different story. In a novel or a movie, moral dilemmas are what make the movie. Seeing the hero come to grips with choices and how they will effect the end result is why we are watching the film or reading the book. Throw the hero a set of crappy choices and see how they react is what pulls us into the story, and this is how we can identify with the main character. Life is not always about easy situations and easy choices. We can relate to the main character when things go badly.

But in a game, it is entirely different. A game is a different form of entertainment. For players that are not invested in their characters, moral dilemmas may not be that interesting. For players that are very invested in their characters, and have been playing them for awhile, moral dilemmas may become very interesting to role play through.

In Pathfinder #5, Sins of the Saviors, Paizo is attempting to create a moral dilemma for the characters. The adventure revolves around the characters attempts to create special magic items in order to defeat the Runelord, the only problem is that the weapons are created by a corrupt instrument of the Runelords.

The layout is very similar to the earlier Rise of the Runelord Pathfinders, and I am including the text here for completeness. The book comes in at hefty 96 pages not counting the covers, with the actual adventure taking up 50 of these pages, with an approximate word count of ~40,000 words. The book is divided up into several sections including the main adventure, two supporting articles (Magic of Thassilon and Lamashtu), the Pathfinder Journal, bestiary (six monsters) and the pregens.

This adventure shares the same criticism as the other in the series with regards to the small font and the ease of reading. I personally did not find it that bad, but I can see how this could be a valid criticism. There have been a number of modules created with small font, and this module is not any worse than some of the others that I have seen.


As with all Pathfinders published to date, this one is in full color. Wayne again is the cover artist and has drawn up a great action scene showing a white dragon attacking Paizo’s iconics. Being a fan of dragon art work, this is a winner in my book. The interior art is solid, with the color maps of the dungeon areas dominating the adventure section. The artwork and layout of the Magic of Thassilon is very good, and I found this to be one of the high-lights of the book.


With the defeat of the giants, an earthquake hits Sandpoint opening up a hidden dungeon that is really a shrine of Lamashtu. The Characters investigate and find the location of the Runeforge, and with it the secret of defeating Runelord Karzoug. Following the clues, leads the characters north to the mountain Rimeskull and the massive dungeon underneath, which contains the Runeforge. The characters quickly realize that the dungeon is not empty, but is still tended by the Thassilonian wizards from an earlier era. As the characters move through the dungeons of sin, they uncover the secret of creating weapons using the Runeforge to use against Runelord Karzoug.

Key features

There are a number of features that this module provides that I am going to list out below:

1. A number of fully mapped out dungeons for exploration

2. A cunning white dragon that is sure to cause a party fits

3. The puzzle of the Runeforge and the ability of the characters to make special weapons.

4. A very well written article on the Magic of Thassilon, along with a web supplement on this topic.

5. An article on Lamashtu.

6. The Pathfinder Journal, which continues the chronicles of Eando Kline.

Final notes

The main focus of this adventure is the dungeons of sin, which should provide 3+ game sessions for the characters to go through. I will say that the main dungeon is fairly flat, and I think the author should have created more vertical movement possibilities. While the dungeon is separated into sections, I would have liked to have seen some vertical separation included. The Runeforge and the possibility to create special weapons is a plus, which the characters should enjoy piecing together on how to accomplish this. The moral dilemma that I opened the review with, adds an additional twist to the adventure, although most parties will probably not think about it too much. Over the course of the adventure path, this is something that the GM can build up to, but it does require a fair amount of upfront work to successfully pull off.

Overall, I give this module a thumbs up, as the design is solid.

Rating: 3.5 Dragons (on a scale of 5)


Chris said...

I have to agree with you (again!) on this module. Although Runeforge was thematically interesting there were definitely some sections that needed expansion into proper dungeon areas (I'm thinking the one-stop-shops of Lust, Pride, Envy and particularly Sloth), whereas others (the - no puns intended - grotesquely bloated necropolis of Gluttony and the brutal grindfest of Wrath) required either trimming or broader exploration of their ruling sin.

The supporting material in this issue was, IMO, spot on. Lamahtu is currently a fan favourite in our group.

Looking forward to your thoughts on #6. Mine were...trenchant to say the least.

Mr Baron said...

Great minds think a like ;)

I felt that while the concept was interesting, it needed a bit more work, and I would have liked to have seen a bigger dungeon. I agree with your comments on the one-stop dungeons.

I will write up #6 over the weekend!