|Call Forth Darkness|
That having been said, I'm kind of glad I do have time to read ahead in this series and make sure things keep moving along swimmingly. One thing I've noticed about even Paizo's best adventure paths . . . there almost always seems to be one adventure out of the bunch that just doesn't quite work. I am hoping Fire Mountain Games can avoid that "this one was pretty much filler and only X in it is really important to the overall plot" feeling that I get from the ones that don't work for me.
The concept of this one is a really nice twist on the traditional dungeon crawl, in that it's a sort of "capture and hold" adventure instead of a "raid and collect X" objective. Add to this some neat rules on what to do with those minions that aren't quite full blown combatants, like your good old cohort is, and this looks like a lot of fun.
It also looks like something you will have to bring your GM A game for to keep the pacing feeling right and to gently nudge the players towards some of the more interesting options in the game. As I said in my reviews on Paizo and RPG Now, it's not a failing of the adventure, it's more that it's one of those adventures that gambles on doing something in a certain way, and if it pays off, it will pay off big.
I'm not going to say it's quite as good as my favorite AP installment of all time, but it shares that kind of "greatness gambling" with the Sixfold Trials in the Council of Thieves AP. If the PCs just don't latch onto performing the murderplay and then chatting up the cream of Westcrown's crop at the Mayor's place, the adventure is going to fall flat. If they really latch onto being actors and rubbing elbows with the elite, they are going to remember the adventure as one of the best of their gaming careers.
While I don't think this is quite as awesome (not an insult, Sixfold Trials is my high water mark for Paizo adventures), it really does have that kind of potential for being actual plotting villains instead of just evil characters doing evil missions. The payoff could be huge and memorable if the buy in is there.
I am really enjoying how this AP is unfolding. Mayhap someday I'll even get to see how it performs in the wilds.
On a related note, I picked up Super Genius Games Genius Guide to Hellfire Magic. This is a fun product, and I enjoyed reading through it. More than that, it really dovetails nicely with the Way of the Wicked AP.
I've liked a lot of SGG products over the years. I think they put up some really strong crunch that does a good job of not so much contributing to rules bloat or power creep but actually has some nice thematic weight to the material. That having been said, I've been reticent to add too much third party material to my campaigns in the past, because you never know how something simple might react with something else that just came out to throw a huge monkey wrench into a campaign.
The nice thing about the SGG products is that in many cases, the offering is so thematically realized that if you come up with just the right campaign, it's kind of easy to be modular and just add what seems like it would be perfect for that particular campaign.
Long story short, I'd throw Hellfire Magic into a Council of Thieves or Way of the Wicked campaign without too many reservations. In fact, if I ever do get back to running Pathfinder on a regular basis, I'm seriously thinking about finding one simple thematic third party product and allowing that in that particular campaign. Easy to keep track of and not much to get too far out of hand.