Today I take a look at The Ruby Phoenix Tournament, an adventure module for level 11th characters, released by Paizo for their Pathfinder roleplaying-game in this January. During the adventure the players compete in a honorable tournament of martial arts and skills for unimaginable rewards, but not everybody around the tournament as honorable as they are. This turns out to be even more dangerous than the competition itself.
In every 10 years there is a tournament held on Xielan Island in honor of the Ruby Phoenix : a supposedly deceased sorceress, who were a devout follower of Abadar, god of contracts, wealth, and order. She created a great vault filled with the most perfect items she could collect, and based on his testament the winning team would be allowed to choose a single item as a prize for their victory.
However an alliance between the Golden League crime syndicate, the Aspis Consortium of the Inner Sea, and a pair of twins disqualified from the previous tournament is working behnd the scenes to ruin The Ruby Phoenix Tournament once and for all.
There are several challenges the characters should meet to win: official matches against competitors, exhibitional challenges, and they must also save the tournament from ruination. I really liked the various contests, from fighting in a vertical surface to classics like breaking contest and “simple” fights against competitors or monsters.
Thanks to it’s special setting it’s a GM’s dream, as it’s features many encounters which would be hardly justified in a regular adventure. Things like almost drowning a character or the already mentioned vertical combat certainly falls into this category.
I have very few problems about the adventure, and they are easy to overlook for the payers since the adventure is much fun to play. One of my concerns that relatively few NPC-s appear outside combat encounters, and only two of them (the lst champion and an opponent) has real depth to them. But maybe it’s not a problem for most characters in an adventure with much more combat than social interactions or investigations. However for me it’s really hurt that the main antagonists don’t have a real place in the adventure, they just appear as a pair of kamikaze boss-enemies at the end. There are no foreboding of their presence, and the whole adventre would be still fine without them, and that’s sad.
Otherwise the adventure feels like running on a little bit pre-determined way, with the players having very few ways to effect what’s happening during the story. For example : if they recognize that somebody try to poison the food, and they may even suspect who many people gets poisoned regardless. They have no way to find out who is the instigator behind the attacks until they are attacked by said persons in the very last encounter.
The Ruby Phoenix Tournament is a good adventure for combat focused playing groups, and it’s even has some other challenges. On the other side, it’s not perfect, and players trying to solve the mistery behind the curtain (or to defend their fellow competitors) will find out that their efforts are often fruitless. The combat and skill encounters are the main strenght of the adventure, and those are the parts where this story really shines.
However taking everything in account I seen better adventures, so I give 3,5/5 stars, but I’m sure tht some groups may find it even better, depeding on their playstyle.
Zoltán “Cain” Mészáros
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