Pathfinder has a huge following, and with very good reason. Over the years, the series has managed to cultivate a large and loyal fan base due in large part to Paizo's focus on the actual adventures. Campaigns can make or break any tabletop RPG, and he recently released In Search of Sanity that serves as the introduction to Strange Aeons gets this series off to a spectacularly strong start.
Admittedly, this is right in my wheelhouse. Anyone who has followed my tabletop trends over the years knows that I am a sucker for horror - and more specifically campaigns that challenge the players' minds. I was a tremendous fan of Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Horror Adventures in large part because that book understood the need for psychological terror.
In Search of Sanity tugs at a lot of those same strings as it sets us in a distant land corrupted not from tradition Gothic horror, but with an alien threat that introduces odd storylines, unique monsters and a creeping, persistent threat that challenges the party's sanity. What I like most about this book's ideas is that they are different while offering a very strong H.P. Lovecraft inspired form of terror. I was particularly fond of how they handle the Elder Things and a boss battle that surprised my players - not something you see with publications like this very often. This is especially true of an introductory piece such as In Search of Sanity.
The book itself looks great, as is usually the case here. The type is clear, the pages look sharp and the cover art is attractive, though it should be noted that as this is a module / campaign book, this is a soft cover and not a hardcover like most of what we have covered previously. The layout of the book is also quite nice, with some quality fiction that is both well-written and well-conceived.
The maps are excellent and served to really help me in getting the players prepared and around the content. There are a few quibbles with information that seems wrong - like different data for the same thing on different pages, but this only happens a couple of times and in the grand scheme of things was pretty insignificant.
In terms of the actual gameplay, there are some cool mechanics but the mysterious nature of everything does leave a lot of questions unanswered for the players. There is a lot of room to add backstory and history down the road, but very little opportunity to execute on that in this installment. It was okay by my group, though one of the guys who likes to try and figure out absolutely everything he can about a scenario did say it was a slightly less satisfying conclusion that he would have liked, but he was the outlier when from the rest of the party.
All in all Pathfinder Adventure Path #109: In Search of Sanity (Strange Aeons 1 of 6) is an excellent opening piece for what looks like it is shaping up to be a grand adventure. It has a distinctive feel and atmosphere which is a huge win for me personally, and I for one am looking forward to seeing where the next installments go.
Article by Nick