Comprehensive gaming campaigns are a pretty vital tool for the busy tabletop role-player. Most of us simply don’t have the time to create intricately detailed plots and worlds, and even the most skilled improviser in the world is prone to a bad day at the office and a lack of energy. Alas, good scenario books will always be rare as they’re complicated things designed for specific use. Paizo’s most recent offering, Curse of the Crimson Throne, is a fine addition to the list. It’s also a rare thing in another regard; it’s extremely well play tested and considered.
Curse of the Crimson Throne is a compilation of previously published scenarios produced by Paizo. They’ve added in additional notes and material, and the result is a resoundingly useful and competent work. The campaign started out life as an accessory for Dungeons and Dragon’s 3.5 and has since evolved into a central scenario for Paizo’s own Pathfinder system (Pathfinder itself is a near flawless version of D&D 3.5 and benefits from decades of play).
The campaign begins in the city of Korvosa, a moldering city-state that is way past its glory days. As the game starts, good old King Eodred finally dies and Queen Ileosa is in the ascendant. She turns out to be a properly evil Queen, one that players can easily grow to hate. She’s an obvious (and un-reachable) bad guy from the start, and the situation for your band of brave adventurers is destined to get stickier and more desperate as the game continues over months of play.
It’s a carefully staggered game; at early levels the big baddies seem far away; in fact character design at the start pushes players into the more manageable street level conflicts. Next up is a major threat to the city that sees the players going out into the desert. As their heroes journey continues, they learn far more about the growing threat at the heart of the city and it swiftly becomes a race to either deal with growing darkness or become consumed by it.
With a good learning curve, interesting NPCs and a detailed setting, this 500-page tome does much of the hard work for you. Dungeon Masters still need to make notes, listen to their players and improvise when the players decide to do something incredibly dumb, but there’s enough material here to make all of that pretty smooth. We found the game will take several months of regular play, which is good value.
The mammoth hardcover contains seven appendixes, which take up over a fifth of the book. There is plenty of information on Korvosa, new magic items, new character options, new monsters etc. All the crunch you’d expect. All of this ties into the campaign; this is a very considered one-stop shop for the busy gamer, and a great game to play.
CURSE OF THE CRIMSON THRONE / PUBLISHER: PAIZO PUBLISHING / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW