Publisher: Paizo Inc
Authors: Jenny Jarzabski, Ivis K. Flanagan, Sasha Laranoa Harving, and Randy Price
Artists: Natasha Nanook, Tuan Duong Chu, Rael Dionisio, Wilmar Ballespí Escarp, Robert Lazzaretti, Ian Perks, Sandra Posada, Luis Salas Lastra, Brooklyn Smith, and Riley Spalding
Genre: Pathfinder fantasy roleplaying adventure path chapter
Pages: 92 pages
MSRP: MSRP $26.99 in softcover or $19.99 in PDF
The player characters face an old foe and discover the architect of the conspiracy in Field of Maidens, the third chapter of the Blood Lords Adventure Path.
Field of Maidens is ostensibly a manhunt for the returned Iron Taviah, but it often doesn’t feel like one. This isn’t a bad thing as the chapter remains fun and compelling but it does mean that the investigative elements directly tied to Taviah herself don’t feel as prominent. That being said, the somewhat circuitous route to the chapter’s climax offers players of all stripes plenty of interest along with substantial opportunity for players to make impactful choices, even if it’s not immediately clear how all will impact the larger narrative.
The adventure features several interesting and, at times, unsettling explorations. Returning to Taviah’s cottage reveals it to be transformed, but it’s clear that the transformation doesn’t look the same to everyone. Investigating the cause leads to some deeply creepy moments with hazards that feel pitch perfect for a shadowy cabin in the woods. This time, the adventure skips the remnants of Taviah’s horrific abuse, instead choosing to focus on a house now fully focused on finding sustenance.
What’s impressive is that when the idea of a house that isn’t what it appears to be returns in the chapter’s third arc, it doesn’t feel like a repeat — rather, they’re two separate riffs on the horror house tropes. Particularly creepy are the illustrations for this section of the adventure, as the doll exude absolute menace, even for someone who doesn’t ordinarily find playthings to be unsettling!
Field of Maidens continues the rather nifty trick of allowing players to work for positive change and be “heroic” without ever asking them to work against their evil alignment. The village of Thornhearth is better off for having the mystery of its missing Benefactor resolved, and players can choose to assist the townsfolk towards independence, should they so choose. While the ultimate goal is, of course, the pursuit of Iron Taviah and the discovery of the conspiracy, it’s fun to do good while still being bad. The adventure also benefits from the freedom it gives players to be creative in resolving conflicts, though this does put a somewhat heavier lift on new GMs in the event that a workable, if totally unexpected, solution comes to pass.
It’s clear that the Blood Lords Adventure Path is planning on something substantial with regard to social influence, which is perhaps unsurprising given that taking down Kemnebi will be no small feat for player characters — but so far, it’s a lot of build without a clear sense of direction. The chapter ends with a summons from Geb himself and the assurance that the characters’ stay in the capital will be a lengthy one which will hopefully begin to drive payoffs.
The bonus material on Holomog is both a wonderful if brief bit of worldbuilding and a quick but masterful demonstration of using color to impart the spirit of a location. Even without taking time to read the section in depth, it’s clear from the color choice and framing alone that Holomog and Geb couldn’t be more different. The detail provided, such as peaceful dinosaurs, will certainly pique interest in the location, even beyond its limited appearance in this adventure path.
Field of Maidens may not entirely succeed as a traditional investigation or manhunt, but it remains a fun and engaging adventure. The darkness of Geb feels more enjoyably camp than the previous installment and the appearance of Geb himself next chapter will likely only elevate that. The variety of tasks within Field of Maidens allow for a variety of playstyles and character builds to shine without ever feeling disjointed and players are truly given room to solve problems creatively. By the final scene, it’s clear that the stakes have been raised and that the player characters will face challenges unlike any that have come before if they hope to defeat the Chancellor.