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Burnt Offerings is the first adventure on the Rise of the Runelords Adventure Path. This is an actual play review.
The adventure consists of four parts: A goblin attack on the town of Sandpoint with some fights between goblins and the party. Every fight has a some scenery, and some ideas for goblin silliness, which set the tone for the first few sessions. It was very cool. The fights also introduce people both good and evil that will show up again later in the adventure, which is neat.
The second part introduces more interesting NPC friends for the party, an elven ranger that can provide a lot of information about the goblins and a human adventurer and inn-owner, who is related to the bad guys in this episode. We see more evil aspects of goblins show up, and the mood turns more sombre. Otherwise this little dungeon is not very interesting, but thankfully also very short.
The third part is an optional dungeon crawl that provides clues to the opponents the party is up against towards the end of the adventure path and provides clues that players interested in discovering the history of these lands will appreciate. As these are of interest in the long run, those players will feel more integrated into coming events. This is excellent.
The last part involves a last dungeon with three entrances, all of them guarded by different monsters and all overcome by different means. The first time the party tried the hedges, got utterly beaten by the goblin druid, and ended up in the prison cells. The rescue party entered via the second entrance and rescued the party. Once they had recovered, the party learnt about the third entrance (as the wizard had picked aquan and a pirate background I ruled that he got a hint from sahuagins living in the area). Since the party got to use all three entrances, this made the various expeditions into the dungeon very interesting.
The big source of evil remained undiscovered, so this ended up being a very nice open-ended scenario.
At the end of the adventure there is a long list of things to do in the village with fifty locations. It’s a lot to read, but eventually you just pick four or five people to play an important role in the game. In my case I picked Ameiko because our pirate wizard had started the game by taking over the Hagfish from Jargie Quinn; I picked Hemlock because the party liked helping him out and I ended up making the paladin the deputy; I picked Zanthus because the party needed a source of healing, potions and scrolls (essentially I gave them 500 gp of healing credit for their good deeds in defense of Sandpoint); and I picked Brodert Quink because the wizard ended up showing a lot of interest in the past (and he had picked Thasselonian as another of his languages, so this came together really well).
LIKED: Well written town. Excellent intro scene, good tying together of various NPCs, good sources of useful information for both setting history and goblins, something that integrated different player types very well, interesting dungeons with optional foes and multiple enemies as well as opportunities to learn about the setting.
DISLIKED: Some information appears in the adventure introduction, some in the episode introduction, and some in the NPC and enemy write-ups. It was often tricky to find on the fly. Often there was a lot of text that I was required to read in order to extract the bits of useful information. As such, I sometimes get the feeling that too much effort is being spent on making the book a good read instead of a good resource for actual play.
VALUE: Very Satisfied
RATING: [5 of 5 Stars!]