Second Darkness recap, part 1

My main home game for the six months was Toinen Pimeys, an epic Pathfinder RPG fantasy campaign based on Paizo’s Second Darkness Adventure Path, spanning 15 character levels and a total of 19 game sessions. We played the last session of the campaign last Monday. A brief recap follows.

Shadow in the Sky

The campaign started out in Riddleport in northern Varisia, in Pathfinder RPG’s default setting world Golarion. Riddleport is a lawless frontier city founded by thieves, scoundrels and pirates. The premise for player characters in the module is quite simple: Make a character who’d have a reason to travel to Riddleport. As such, the simplicity of the premise is quite typical of published modules, in that it is assumed that adventurers adventure because that’s what adventurers do. The module’s base assumption works well enough if the GM and the players have a social contract, which states that the characters will follow the plot, regardless of what or who the characters themselves are. For any other kind of gaming, the premise simply doesn’t work, as the campaign really doesn’t provide enough incentive for the characters to stay motivated and on track for the whole six book campaign arc. So, the first thing I did was change the basic premise to one which provides solid rationale for the player characters to stay on track to the bitter end. As the main enemy of the campaign are the drow, I decided that all the player characters would be members of a team of elves working for a secret organization within the elf nation, with the stated goal of protecting the elf nation from enemies within. As low level operatives, the characters didn’t yet know, that the true enemies are one of elvenkinds best kepts secrets, the corrupted, demon-worshiping dark elves. The identity of the true enemy was no secret to the players, however, as pictures of drow grace pretty much every cover in the series. The first mission would be infiltrating Riddleport, and investigating rumors of corrupt elves working with the criminal underworld.

The Player Characters dived in head first, and were soon embroiled in the machinations of Riddleport’s many Crime Bosses. Tracking funds and mysterious cargo manifests, they soon discovered which one of Crime Bosses was the one they were looking for. It didn’t take them long to discover the “power behind the throne”, a dark elf coordinating the underhanded dealings from a secret lair beneath the city. A first inkling of the drows’ fiendish master plan was uncovered as well: Apparently they were attempting to pull a meteorite down on the surface of the planet, using it as a weapon of mass destruction against their surface kin. The book ended with a shooting star hitting an island off the coast of Varisia, with the ensuing tidal wave throwing Riddleport into chaos.

With the first four game sessions set in Riddleport, the campaign was off to a good start. Riddleport is great as a setting, and the players really enjoyed playing the Crime Bosses against each other. Riddleport would serve quite well as a setting for a complete campaign, instead of just four games, and so it is a pity, that after these four sessions, the characters would never again adventure in Riddleport.

Children of the Void

The next book of the series started out with the characters heading to Devil’s Elbow, the island off the coast of Varisia, where the meteorite had struck down. There were several other expeditions heading the same way, as it was rumored that the meteorite was composed of rare and extremely valuable Starmetal. Turns out the meteorite had brought passengers with it, strange alien beasts with a parasitic life cycle involving re-animated human corpses. Arriving on the island, the characters had a few run-ins with these aliens, a strange breed of zombies, marooned pirate crews, the ghosts of previous occupants, and finally, the drow expedition responsible for the magical ritual which had pulled down the meteorite.

The module itself was an interesting mix of sci-fi and fantasy elements. The setting of Devil’s Island would have provided lots of material for exploration and running into weird stuff, but as the character troupe was quite focused on stopping the drow, they pretty much breezed through the key plot points of the book, managing to finish it in just two game sessions.

The Armageddon Echo

The third book of the series had the characters travel to the formerly abandoned elven city Celwynvian, now infested with drow invaders. The characters were part of a small army sent to reclaim the city from the dark elves. Serving as advance scouts, the characters’ infiltration skills soon proved invaluable in the sort of urban guerrilla warfare being conducted among the ruins of the once-great city.

The whole book was pretty much skirmish fighting from house to house, with little other plot or character content. The group of four players were reinforced by a new player, giving the formerly slightly stagnant player group dynamic a shot of fresh blood. The characters’ power curve was starting to reach the point where managing the ever increasing amount of different powers the characters had at their disposal was starting to take way too much time out of actual play. I’ve, however, blogged on this particular topic already, so I won’t go into it here.

I’ve now covered the first half of the campaign arc, and I that’s about all I have time and energy for right now. Next up, the latter part of the Adventure Path.


2 responses to “Second Darkness recap, part 1

  1. I’ve for some time wondered whether I should buy one of those Adventure Paths, both out of curiosity and of course something to be used. It seems that at least those first two episodes might be worthwhile?

    • Well, it depends on what you’re looking for specifically. If you’re looking for low- to mid-level adventures to run for your gaming group using your system of choice, pretty much any of the first books of published adventure paths will do. As you probably know, there are quite a few to choose from at this point, and in my opinion, Second Darkness isn’t the best of the lot. My personal favorites (as stand alone books, not as adventure arcs) are the first three books of Rise of the Runelords, and books two and three of Curse of the Crimson Throne. I’ve read all of the published ones except for Council of Thieves, so if you have more specific questions on content and such, ask away.

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