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TB1: The Crooked Nail (PF) $7.99
Average Rating:4.0 / 5
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TB1: The Crooked Nail (PF)
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TB1: The Crooked Nail (PF)
Publisher: Frog God Games
by Ralph D. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 08/13/2022 13:33:37

Despite what the description text says above, this iteration of The Crooked Nail is for the first edition of the Pathfinder RPG. While set in The Blight, it can easily be moved into your particular campaign setting, and the sourcebook for the city is not required to use it.

The adventure has a novel concept, with the PCs heading to a fantasy equivalent of a haunted house tourist trap, flavored as one of the hell planes of the afterlife. The proprietor sees it as a way to scare people into living a virtuous life and avoiding the more horrific realms that await one after death. He seems a little off his rocker, as after the tour through his establishment he goes on an unhinged rant, with the PCs being hired to reacquire a stolen item that touched off the aforementioned rant. After acquiring the purloined item, the PCs return to his business and find it very changed from when they left it, as they learn that the man had a very personal reason to create his warning of the dangers in the afterlife.

This module has a lot going for it. As I said, the setting is novel, and far better than most attempts to incorporate such into a RPG that I’ve seen over the decades. It is well-written, having a backstory that is both good and mostly revealed to players throughout the adventure; I’ve seen far too many scenarios in recent years with massive backstory the players never learn of, so this was a refreshing change.

I was also impressed by the way the adventure used a setting and its maps for two segments of the adventure, each with a different feel. I have seen scenarios that have included detailed maps for one portion of a scenario, then expected the GM to make their own on the fly for the rest. This scenario was very elegant in how it worked around the page limit and the cost of commissioning maps for an adventure.

There’s also one part I like, which I don’t know if it was intentional or not on the part of the author, where a party that doesn’t charge into melee at the first opportunity will have an easy time with one encounter. It fits the tone of the scenario, and is a nice breather for the first-level characters run through this.

The adventure does have a few flaws that keep me from giving it a five-star rating. At one point in the adventure the author makes a good stab of the problem when PCs defeat a foe who is in possession of a number of valuable things, and PCs obtaining all of them could unbalance a campaign. Unfortunately, this resolution is unintentionally funny, with law enforcement coming off as “Well, we’re down with you killing these blokes, and potentially going on murder rampages later, but we can’t have you stealing, can we? Just wouldn’t be right.” The fact that said law enforcement comes out of nowhere, when they are nowhere to be found after a similar situation at the end of the adventure, really kills the feeling this is not just a way to hose PCs out of power-ups. Combined with the way law enforcement will allow PCs to take some stuff, it takes one out of the game.

The same portion of the adventure also has two issues with the aforementioned treasure. First, there is vague description of a collection the PCs come across, and I’m uncertain if they are meant to be inert versions that still retain some value of oddities, or if they are meant to be still usable. The value assigned to them doesn’t help one infer which it is, as they’re things that can hurt as much as help PCs, depending on how smart they are in their use.

There’s also a section where they can uncover a massive number of potions. Given their previous owner, I’m uncertain if they’re meant to be labeled and allow PCs to know what they’re getting into, or unlabeled, as the fellow who owned them is certainly the type to be paranoid enough to not label things for fear someone might then steal them, having recognized their worth.

At one point the scenario uses optional fear rules from a Pathfinder supplement, and I was actually impressed by their use at first. The problem is that later in the adventure PCs will be fighting a number of monstrosities, and you are left wondering why a mundane device is capable of inflicting fear on PCs, but creatures that have crossed the veil between life and death make them go “Eh.”

Finally, the adventure has a fair number of unique traps. One of them is lacking in an XP value for getting past it, and given the varied effects on it I’m uncertain what XP value to assign it myself.

Despite my complaints I highly recommend this adventure. It’s a good starting adventure that will most likely provide a different style of adventure than what most players are used to.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
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