When you hear that the writers of Citadel of Pain began their endeavor with a fairly simple map on gaming paper, you shouldn’t feel bad for cringing a little. I know I did. I fully expected a run of the mill by the number adventures adventure to sell a product, behavior that has been honed from years of putting up with this from those wizards on the Coast. I even put off reading it for 3 days because I was afraid I was going to have to give a fairly low review as I hate run of the mill adventures.
Just as it is living at home with a wife of 10 years, I was familiarly proven wrong, as Citadel of Pain is a meaty, campaign inspiring product that is one of the best adventures I have read in the Pathfinder game since Paizo’s Kingmaker path. Good adventures include out of the box mechanics and that is what makes Citadel of Pain shine. The unique story that begins with the players surfing on the back of a mechanical drill is sugary icing on the cake.
At 120 pages, City of Pain, written by Lou Agresta and Rone Barton and published by Gaming Paper, spaces out a lot of adventure. DMs can certainly center a storyline around the Fortress of Rogthandor, now nicknamed the Citadel of Pain because of its weird alchemical monstrosities and defenses. The scientific creations gone wrong scenario allows for some strangely unique adversaries for PCs. In one part of the adventures, PCs will have to negotiate with several different factions within the Citadel, and this presents a cool new mechanic where players actions are placed on a chart that will determine the future adversaries later in the adventure. Unlike traditional reputation point systems, I found the letter crosschart to be far easier to handle and way less math to keep up with.
The adventure is broken up into several acts, each act containing a very non-linear path of movement. In addition, every part has a “lose scenario” which makes for a very open ended adventure that always puts the PCs in control and provides them positive and negative consequences for their actions.
For the Dungeon Masters
Citadel of Pain is incredibly organized and contains detailed artwork and detailed handouts that will truly engage your players. The adventure does a strong job of integrating mystery, puzzles, combat and social encounters.
The Iron Word
Citidal of Pain is an impressive outing by first time adventure publisher Gaming Paper. There is so much to do in the adventure. The non-linear way the adventure was written makes you glad to be the DM so you can read about the dozens of pages of material you probably won’t use, depending on the routes your PCs take.
Disclaimer – Lou Agresta is the organizer (and orange leprachan) of the Iron GM Tournament, of which I am a yearly competitor. Gaming Paper is a yearly sponsor of the Iron Player Tournament, of which I am lead organizer. I take great pains to make sure that my reviews are unbiased and that a crappy product will be lambasted like the others .
[5 of 5 Stars!]