Pathfinder Module Review: The Dragon’s Demand

The module

So it appears I am a sucker for advertising.  In one of my envelopes that I received an Adventure Path module in I got some of Paizo’s postcard sized advertising and it had a blurb on this module, The Dragon’s Demand.  It looked cool, sounded cool and apparently was a huge redevelopment of their module series (standalone modules for various levels) and so I hopped on to the website and signed up for the subscription.  I even got the module prior to this (Doom Comes to Dustspawn) just to see what the differences were (and there are many but I’ll not be covering them!).

The Dragon’s Demand is a module suited for starting characters and should take them from 1st level through to 6th or 7th level by the end of the adventure utilising the medium track of experience in Pathfinder.  I like this module a lot for starting GM’s to the game.  It gives a nice solid start to the game and uses a lot of the tropes of the game.  Dragon’s, Wizards, Towers, Kidnapped Villagers, Dungeons and so many other standard fantasy ideas that many of us overlook these days.

In particular I liked the way the Dragon was given treatment in this module.  I struggle with dragons at times but the green dragon at the heart of this module is evil but not an all destroying style of evil.  he is manipulative, vain and arrogant.  But not only that he has flaws that can be manipulated and a structure of servants with a real sense of life to them.

Module and one side of the battle map

The adventure is designed from a standpoint to cater for all types of characters of all alignments.  There is a strong sense of quests that is used in the game that are offered up to the players as they find them.  This was a little too literal for me but as I see this being used for new role-players I get that the concept may work well.  I do find that there are some incongruities with some of the quests and the flow of the game.  For example, several of the quests look at either making people helpful or hostile to the party (suiting a good or evil alignment appropriately) yet the premise is the Mayor keeps asking for help from the players.  Also, the final victory is a massive celebration.  Now if the players were hated in the town surely they would not be the go to group for important missions and no one would want to celebrate a victory.  There is also no modification of rewards based on how much they are hated or loved which I would have liked to have seen in the module.

One of the changes they made to the module series is the inclusion of a double sided map about A3 in size.  The map in this module has the town (Belhaim) on one side and an outdoor auditorium style map on the reverse.  Both maps are well drawn and presented.  I was very impressed with them when I finally took it out of the back of the module.  But (there is always a but) I was a little confused after reading the module to find out that the battle map included of the outdoor area is a scene that is not likely to draw any combat.  They are called battle maps because battle occurs on them.  There is no point to an inch gridded map with scenery unless you are going to use it in a battle and like to have an accurate miniature representation.  I could be wrong but this map is used so the players can put their miniatures on the chairs they sit at for the auction.  I think an opportunity was missed here as to me, while it is a nice map and I like to keep players guessing, perhaps it could have been the Crypt map or something similar (see I told you about tropes, they go into a Crypt!).

The town map with the module!

The artwork and layout is top notch.  This of course is generally expected of Paizo but I have to congratulate them for this. I loved nearly all the art in this module.  The naga still leaves me cold, but that is true of EVERY naga picture I have ever seen.  I am yet to see a naga that makes them feel realistic to me.  The cover is iconic.  I do not want to appear to be flippant in the use of this word.  I believe that this cover is as iconic as the front of TSR’s basic red box Dungeons and Dragons in the 1980’s.  The cover of this module by Lars Grant-West is my favourite cover of any of my current role playing books.  Top work Paizo for this atmospheric and provocative image for the module.  It was largely the reason (yes I am that shallow) that I signed up to the module subscription.

Aside from what I mentioned above about an evil campaign I have to say the  NPC’s in this module are very (VERY) well rounded and have good back-stories that players would do well to investigate and use.  This is encouraged by the quest structure and will lead to some great role-playing scenes.  Even some of the enemy NPC’s can be wooed and won over with a little bit of knowledge under the belt and I think that is a really great thing.  There are not reams of information written about one thing that is inaccessible and useless in the bigger picture like in a lot of Pathfinder Adventure Path modules seem to contain.

Is The Dragon’s Demand a module that you should have on your shelf?  I think it is.  There is nothing in it that will make a truly experienced GM do a double take but it is a great solid adventure, well developed and designed.  It allows for player decision and control to come into the game as they can work their own angles and is not designed to push them forward like so many other modules do.  For a new GM who is thinking to branch out into a campaign, this is an excellent start.  It is a great fantasy romp that includes all the things that have traditionally made a fantasy game one of the most played genres in role playing.  The way the Dragon comes across is an excellent portrayal and I think you should have it for that alone.  So I am going to offer two ratings to this.  For an experienced GM looking for something new I would suggest this is a three and a half dragon scales out of five whilst for the new GM wanting to play a good solid game I give this a four and a half dragon scales out of five.  Until next time, keep rolling!

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