EDIT: This review reflects the new and improved version of the adventure - Dreamscarred Press
The first part of Dreamscarred press's AP set in the all-psionic world of Ksaren is 55 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD and 1 page back cover, leaving a whopping 51 pages of content, so let's sharpen our mind's eye and check this one out!
This being an adventure review, I urge potential players to jump to the conclusion due to rampant SPOILERS.
Still here? Righty right! When the second-most powerful seer in Arbil collapses dead after a cryptic prophecy about the unraveling of future, the PCs are charged to prevent the destruction of futures as prophesized by the now-dead psionic. Thus, the pdfs are set off on a sandboxy journey through the city of Arbil and the surrounding area - after all, trade with the nearby kobold mines have all but ceased and the recent earthquake does not bode well. In Arbil and the surrounding lands, a plethora of sidequests of the fetch(kill-variety abound and make one reminiscent of e.g. Baldur's Gate 1. It should be noted, though, that the xp-rewards for these quests and throughout the whole adventure are rather massive for my tastes.
EDIT: Dreamscarred Press have gone above and beyond in revising this adventure and provided A LOT of new maps, making now each area of the adventure mapped. While the main story still feels like one among many different small and medium quests, the new maps as well as the revised fluff-boxes do a lot to do evoke a sense of immersion in a campaign world that feels distinct and different as well as organic - kudos! In the Kobold City, a minor murder mystery is set, that as presented is nothing but a series of skill-checks. While the new map makes the city easy to picture, I think the overall presentation as a series of skill-checks is somewhat detrimental to the mystery's appeal - a pity in the face of the rather neat little mystery, for the main antagonists of this adventure are puppeteers, slug-like mind-controlling parasites that make each and every defeated foe count double - saving as many as possible will have major influence on the adventures to come.
The adventure also features two dungeons, the old and the new mines, both fully mapped and especially the new mines coming with some beautiful pieces of artwork and the option to crash through the mine in a cart - very cool! EDIT: The formatting problem with the maps has been taken care of.
The final fight against a puppeteer hive brain is cool and sees the Pcs destroy a machine creating the psionics-weakening disturbance in the flow and, depending on the PC's performance, an exodus of the kobold populace to their city - very cool, as it features real consequences of the PC's deeds throughout the adventure.
Also included is information on the city of Arbil, a 4-page extensive write-up of Kobolds as a playable race and an article on Duels in the Ophidian Protectorate. It is here that the 3.5-legacy indebted to Malhavoc Press's Hyperconscious becomes readily apparent - once, the duel was a form of subcombat via Mindscapes, which was cumbersome, slowed the game to a grinding halt and was a prime example of mechanics that just don't work well. In PFRPG, these duels as a means of advancement have been streamlined and in the second iteration of this adventure, expanded: While the basic concept is still not absolutely awesome, the revised iteration of the rules adds some tactical depth to the opposing rolls of the combatants.
On a more positive note, we get a random monster table and compiled stats (including artworks) of the beasts herein: Brain Moles, Crysmals, Deep Hounds (regular and dire), Folugubs, Maenads and 3 kinds of puppeteer as well as temporal filchers, thought eaters and advanced wolverines makes their appearance.
The pdf concludes with an overview of the adventures to come in the arc and seem to span a wide array of different themes, which is nice.
Editing and formatting have SIGNIFICANTLY improved in this second iteration of the adventure and now fall into the upper echelons. The 2-column layout is full-color and both maps and artworks are nice. The adventure comes with bookmarks. Damn, this one is hard to rate. On the one hand, I really like the attention to detail given with all the subquests and the fact that the PCs actually accomplish relevant things and influence the degree of success. I also like the difficulty of the adventure, for without clerics a fall of 4d6 at first levels is a rather lethal trap...
The points of criticism I had for the boxed texts have been thankfully taken care of, but this adventure still feels like a 64 or 72-page adventure that has been cut down to accommodate gazetteer-like sections, which, while not bad, would have been put to better use with more details. Ksaren is an intriguing world and the AP feels completely different from all the commercial adventures for PFRPG I've read so far, which on the other hand is a plus - it takes quite an effort to do that to jaded yours truly. In the end, though, the sketchy nature that at times make this adventure feel less detailed than it could or should have been. While the section on psychic duels has been improved, I'm still not sold on the overall idea.
Dreamscarred Press have done a MASSIVE amount of fixing with the second iteration of their first adventure and it shows - from text to maps to rules, each and every aspect of the adventure has been improved. Seeing that the team has managed to improve even the terrible basic idea of psychic duel that has plagued psionics for several editions to a point where I can consider the rules ok - not splendid, but usable. The sandboxy adventure featuring varied quests, wilderness, crawling etc. feels unique and in the end, the improvements pay off. While the overall structure of the adventure still feels a bit cramped and the mystery a bit rudimentary, I still think that none of the other adventures released for PFRPG feel just like this, making the overall experience distinct and unique. Thus, my final verdict for the revised edition will be a solid 4 stars for a good start to the AP.