A Review of the Role Playing Game Supplement City of Seven Spears

City of Seven Spears is the third, #39, module in the Serpent’s Skull Adventure Path from Paizo Publishing and is the sequel to Racing to Ruin. This adventure is published for use with the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game and is therefore covered by the Open Game License with some parts as a result being considered to be Open Game Content. The adventure is written for characters who are 7th level at the start and who have reached 10th level by the end, after which the Adventure Path continues in Vaults of Madness.

The adventure is available as a PDF from the Paizo site at the regular price of $13.99 but was purchased at the reduced price of $10.49. It can also be purchased as a softcover book, primarily now from sites such as Amazon.

City of Seven SpearsThe PDF is the version reviewed. Two pages are the full colour front and rear covers, two pages are the inside covers featuring graphics of flora and fauna of the region and descriptions of them, two pages are the front matter, one page is the Table of Contents, one page is the Open Game License and a preview of upcoming supplements and one page is an ad for various fiction items.

Into the Lost City is the introduction and covers the concept of friends and enemies in the city. There is also mention of the five NPC castaways from Souls for Smuggler’s Shiv; each has now got a higher level and each has a particular quest in the city which will give an XP reward if fulfilled.

City of Seven Spears is the adventure itself. It starts with the background to and summary of the adventure. Then, Part One: The Glory of Saventh-Yhi has a map of the city, a description of some general features, including magical effects and architecture and entering the city. How the players can uncover the city’s history and what they will gain from this, as well as the unique features of the seven spears, are also here. There is a page of generic battlemaps, entering the city itself and details of some of the major areas or features.

The next seven parts each cover an area of the city, each situated around one of the seven spears. Each begins with a stat block giving details such as residents, encounters, notable NPCs and how the area can be allied with or conquered, as well as the spear effects and how to fully activate them. Various encounters are covered in each area, and each is dominated by a single group, most unfriendly at best.

The final section of the adventure, Part Nine: Escape from the Underworld, is an event that takes place when the PCs reach 10th level. At this point they are attacked by an undead serpentfolk necromancer and his minions, providing a lead-in to the next adventure.

Concluding the adventure is briefly covered then there is an appendix, Treasures of Saventh-Yhi, which describes twelve new magic items, which the players will likely have found in the city. There is also a sidebar on advancing players’ progress with a faction.

Expedition to Saventh-Yhi covers setting up camp within the city and defending it, what benefits are gained from the camp and the consequences if it is lost, and has a primary agent and their associates for each faction.

The Path of Juju is about juju (a precursor of voodoo). Various juju ‘gods’ are provided, a juju mystery for the oracle class, juju zombies and fetishes and five new magic items related to juju.

Plague of Light: 3 of 6 – The Condemned is the third instalment in the fiction piece. This also has a new feat as a sidebar.

Bestiary has random encounters for the various districts of Saventh-Yhi and five new monster types. One of these is a swarm and has five different types within it, one is from African mythology and, oddly, one is effectively a giant, intelligent carnivorous parrot.

Finally, Pregenerated Characters has the characters from earlier supplements, upgraded in level and experience.

City of Seven Spears in Review

The PDF is very well bookmarked with the major and minor sections linked. The Table of Contents shows all the major sections. Navigation is as a result above average. The text maintains Paizo’s standard two column full colour format and no errors were noticed. There are many full colour illustrations, up to around half a page in size, including images of four of the monsters and one of the swarms. Presentation is therefore very good.

The adventure is essentially a large sandbox, that of the city of Saventh-Yhi, which doesn’t conclude until the players are of a high enough level to continue on to the next module in the adventure path. Now, sandboxes can be good but this one is definitely flawed. There are many encounter locations in the city, none of which have floor plans or battlemaps; instead there are eleven sample generic maps and the suggestion to use Paizo’s Flip-Mat and Map Pack products for more. This is no doubt down to space limitation, but it’s quite poor, as it means the module is not complete in and of itself, especially as this is a true sandbox location where players will be exploring, and fighting in, many different locations. There are also locations that are not described – most of the city in fact – and something should have been done for this. Examples of different types of buildings and/or generators for more would have helped but there is nothing; again, probably down to space limitations. Rather than decreasing the amount of prep a GameMaster needs to do, this module to a large extent actually increases it, as there is an awful lot of city and it isn’t that well described, or even described at all.

The city is stated as being lost, although others have stumbled onto it before, which does undermine the “lost” concept a bit, although it would appear that knowledge of the city has not been disseminated. The first real encounter is with an undead prior visitor to the city.

The various competing factions are arriving at the city and should also be seeking control of it. Nothing is really done to develop this; the players can to a large extent conquer or ally with the city unhindered by the other factions.

Saventh-Yhi isn’t all bad; there are some decent major monsters and some interesting non player characters to interact with (although the aboleth seems utterly incidental to the story, and a dangerous incidental at that) but really, a GM needs to more fully flesh out the city itself. It seems like an attempt has been made to cover far too much in too little space, leaving it massively undeveloped. Players can also find out the history of the city, which may or may not interest them but there is a reward for this.

Other material is the new rules on juju magic, the bestiary and the new magical items. These continue with the general “jungle” theme of the adventure path and add to the general flavour; one of the monsters in particular is quite dangerous.

City of Seven Spears is a rather flawed instalment in this adventure path which can be made decent with quite a lot of GM input, but that, to a degree, defeats the whole point of buying adventure paths.

 

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