I've only been through the first two volumes of this adventure path, so this might change as I get further in. Over the years, Paizo has become known for pushing the bounds of traditional fantasy in their storytelling. Sure the system might be tired, but you can't deny the steps the company has taken to buck many of the tropes that define classic fantasy settings and provide us with a more inclusive, forward thinking view of what fantasy can be. When I first heard about Iron Gods, I was excited for two reasons. First, it promised to blur the line between science fiction and fantasy without resorting to hokey concepts like "magitech". Second, I knew that Numeria, the AP's setting, was a favored creation of Creative Director James Jacobs, this meant that I could be sure that he would give every volume his full attention and passion. With so many books being published by Paizo every year, many of the stories have to be compromised on in order to meet the demands of their hectic publication schedule. I knew that James Jacobs would not compromise when it came to his favorite setting, and that dedication shows in the first two volumes. My favorite part about this AP is that it provides such a unique and interesting cast of villains, really giving the GM the ability to go wild with the descriptions of psychotic robots and alien creatures. It also uses a large number of original monsters not found in any of the bestiaries, mitigating player knowledge of the enemies' abilities and weaknesses and leading to a campaign that is far less likely to involve meta-gaming, a pet peeve of mine. Standard creatures like skeletons, orcs, and ratkin are made interesting again by equipping them with ancient and often malfunctioning technological weaponry or strange mutations that keep the players off balance. Every time I hear a player say the words "wait, it can do that?" I want to grin from ear to ear. I only give this AP a four because I feel like it still suffers from some mediocre design in the department of the technical gear that appears in it (it's mostly just inferior and more expensive versions of magic items that already exist). But I do like that my players are getting to experience new items and an unpredictable meta atmosphere that makes optimizing a character very difficult. It reminds me a bit of our early games, before people looked up guides for everything and knew exactly what items they planned their character to utilize from first level all the way to endgame. Overall, if you have a group that's looking to try something new, or are looking for a way to give your players a sense of mystery and danger that your group may be feeling a lack of after killing their 85th lord of the undead, then this story may be just the thing you are looking for.
First, I've only read this adventure path, not actually played it. Second, I've only read half of it yet - the rest remains to be published. So I can really only give general impressions. This is something odd for Pathfinder, and could easily be moved out of fantasy and into a post-holocaust or even a pulp game with very few changes. It features very high tech. By default the players are not expected to be able to understand this tech, but there are options for how they would if the GM lets them at it. The setting is mostly wilderness and small towns (tough that will change for the last installments I think) and the action is split between wilderness and installations (dungeons). The first part is a dungeon that is not very exiting to me - I am not a big fan of big dungeons. The second part is in a scrap-heap settlement, and so far this is the part that really impresses me. The setting is lovely, featuring various gangs you have to interact with. It ends up in a smaller dungeon with a very scary feel - much better than the big one in part 1. Part three is in a town in the wilderness with adjacent dungeon, and has a nice feel of xenophobia. And that is all the parts I've read. The players are not led by the nose through these scenarios, but the overall plot is pretty linear, as usual for adventure paths. I give this 4 stars, which is kind of my standard for a Pazio advenure path - the production values are great, but the plot might not be to everyone's liking and, well, I can't rate them all 5 or the rating would be failry uninteresting.
i have 5 of the 6 modules so far, and to me it's already a hit with those. It starts with an intriguing delve into an old ruin, replete with innovative foes and tech goodies to play with, ratchets up to towns orf scrap and Chainsaw-wielding Orcs, includes even a "research whodunit" mystery for the group's problem solver types, and culminates in political intrigue to insinuate yourself in the highest levels of power to be in a position to strike at the true evil. I think it strikes the right balance of combat, exploration, and roleplay that every AP should aspire to.
I've been playing/reading/DMing most of the adventure paths since the days of Dungeon Magazine. One of the biggest issues with these adventure paths is that they are often uneven and feel disjointed. Often when you read through an entire adventure path you feel as if they are six loosely connected adventures where the authors didn't talk to each other and coordinate stories. Iron Gods is the first adventure path in a long time where I felt they really took their time with the editing, scope, and effort to connect the books. James Jacobs outdid himself with the editing of this AP.Right from the start you know they really were planning this out as they reference events and character in future books. The pacing is fantastic as they clearly outline the structure in the 2nd book as a trilogy with each of the two books as a part of the trilogy. By structuring the pacing in a traditional 3 act arch it gives players a traditional story structure to latch onto and helps anchor a long adventure. Rarely have I seen such careful planning and structure in these adventure paths, and it's GMs dream to have the storyline carefully thought out throughout all six books.Add in the fantastic writing (the modules are some of the most detailed I have ever read), the Mad Max-style setting, unique monsters unlike anything encountered in a traditional Pathfinder game to date, and just the right amount of technology (just enough to add a technology-feel to the campaign but not enough to overwhelm) and this adventure path will go down in history as one of the best of all time.
Overall, I think Iron Gods is a very successful adventure path, one that blends science and technology into a fantasy game quite elegantly. It has its weak moments and moments of filler (The Choking Tower is the weakest instalment), but I am very impressed by how open-ended the adventure path is as a whole. It tells a complete story while allowing the PCs a wide variety of options. Players will certainly feel as though their characters are creating this story just as much as, even more so than, the NPCs are. Read my full reviews of each instalment here: http://www.ofdiceandpen.ca/search/label/Iron Gods