|"Temple of the Serpent" from the Serpent's Skull AP.|
Before I go into more detail about my dissatisfaction with this AP, let me offer some key tips for anyone considering running any sort of adventure path-type product, whether authored by Paizo or a 3PP. First, check their forums to see what issues other people are having with the product from a practical stand point. Had I done this, I would have learned that *at least* the third part of the AP is considered unfinished (in general).
If you're still on board with the AP after checking the forums, I highly recommend reading the entire path before committing to it. This is something I've had difficulty doing because we're talking about reading 600 hundred pages, if you read all of the bonus material as well. Who has time for that these days? Anyway this also doesn't fit the "serialized" subscription model Paizo has set up, so if you're a subscriber (I'm not because I want to pick and chose), you'd either have to wait 6 months to review a brand new path (assuming there are 6 parts, which is the usual) or pick a path that's already complete. Otherwise you're trusting that the publisher's next issue is worth playing. Honestly, you can *usually* trust your favorite brand. The Serpent's Skull is an exception...
There's also another few good reasons to read ahead. Even though you're buying a product of this type to save time, you'll still have to prepare for each session and knowing what epic end the path has in store will allow you to decide if that's the direction you want your campaign to go. APs also seem to have a lot of "filler" encounters and by knowing ahead of time what those are you can trim out non-essential details or stuff you just flat out don't like. This also let's you know where to put in your own player-personalized campaign or plot material. Replacing a bad guy with a player's misguided cousin can make players feel more a part of their world, increasing the depth of play. They'll be more engaged if the campaign has that sort of depth. Finally, you'll know what the balance is between combat and roleplay encounters if you read ahead. If you prefer more roleplay, you can reduce or replace whatever encounters don't fit your vision or style of play.
|Abandoned wealthy merchant's|
mansion in the lost Azlanti city of Savith-Yhi.
Finally, if you use dungeon tiles or other special effects, consider the maps in the AP and whether you have the materials you need to represent the maps they present. If you use a plain old vinyl mat or game paper, consider whether you can draw what the AP has in store. Very often I find that the flashy garbage around a lot of the maps in APs makes it harder to translate during play, but then I prefer function over form whereas most people seem to want more flash than function.
That's it for now... I'll decide whether to layout my dissatisfaction with this particular AP in blog form, if I get any responses...