Before you dive into a full-fledged campaign with Curse of the Crimson Throne, you need to figure out how Pathfinder works. Check out our review of the pocket editions of the Core Rulebook and Bestiary here.
Are you ready to sit down with one of the most legendary RPG campaigns of all time? Paizo’s Pathfinder RPG sprang from the Dungeons & Dragons 3.5 ruleset, and Paizo has resurrected one of its classic campaigns in a beautiful hardcover book with updated art, rules, appendices, and all new content. Do you think your party is ready to take on the Curse of the Crimson Throne? Better yet, is it worth your time and money to pick up this path? Read on, but make sure to check for traps…
The first main positive of this updated release are the rule changes, taking the campaign from Dungeons & Dragons to Pathfinder. Before this, GMs would have to spend a ton of time making sure the systems worked within the Pathfinder rules and updating scenarios accordingly. Paizo has taken care of that frustrating work for you, even completely changing some locations and encounters to better fit the system.
So what can you expect from Curse of the Crimson Throne? We will try to be as spoiler-free as possible. This campaign is set in the city of Korvosa, and players can expect to spend lots of time dealing with urban intrigue and helping to protect the city from an all-powerful evil. There are plenty of opportunities to explore the city and room for non-combat encounters, so groups that really enjoy roleplay and intrigue will find a lot to like here. It is not a jet-setting campaign like Rise of the Runelords; players will rarely find themselves outside of the city, instead attempting to protect it from within.
The basic plot is as such: Korvosa’s ruler has never died of old age or had an heir, hence the “curse” in the title. The players are united to take down a crime boss, which quickly earns them an audience with the current leader of the city. They are hired to help clean up the criminal elements of the city, with things rapidly spiraling out of control into a “time to save the world” scenario. What starts as an attempt to take down organized crime instead turns into combatting a plague, fighting immortals, and eventually preventing demons from destroying the entire world.
The element that really helps Curse of the Crimson Throne stand out is its character, both of the city itself and the NPCs that the party will meet throughout. The city of Korvosa truly feels alive; events happen independently of the player characters, and the same NPCs continue to show up as main parts of quests or just incidentally. Because of this, it feels like the player characters are really part of the world, rather than the world revolving entirely around them and their actions.
Another striking thing about the characters in Curse of the Crimson Throne is the villain of the story. In many Pathfinder campaigns, the true villain is obscured by smaller skirmishes, and it is not until near the end that the players truly know what they are up against. Here, the villain is introduced very early on and continues to lord over things in the background. If the antagonist was not done well, this could grow tiresome. Instead, it adds a sense of dread and truly makes the antagonist feel like a massive problem – it gives the players a looming dread that gets more and more powerful to the point of seeming almost insurmountable. It’s a great bit of storytelling that works wonders for Curse of the Crimson Throne.
The campaign itself is excellent, and lots of little details add even more value to this massive book. There are options and ideas to branch off to in case the player characters do not want to retire their characters after finishing the campaign. There are detailed profiles of several of the NPCs, giving the GM a better understanding of the characters to help them better react to the decisions the players make. Just paging through the book is a treat as well; the art is absolutely gorgeous, in typical Pathfinder fashion.
Overall, Curse of the Crimson Throne is a great campaign for Pathfinder newbies and veterans alike. The interesting cast of characters, intriguing setting, and powerful antagonist all combine to make for a memorable adventure full of great moments. Players will not get to globe trot like they do in some other Pathfinder campaigns, but they will get to explore a fully fleshed-out world and make their marks on it.
Have you ever tackled the Curse of the Crimson Throne? Let us know in the comments below! Want to add some horror to your Pathfinder adventures? Check out our review of the Horror Adventures sourcebook here.