As Skulls and Shackles comes to an end, last three scenarios tonight, I look forward to another attempt at Wrath of the Righteous and continuing our run through Rise of the Runelords. Skulls and Shackles has been fun and I see the improvements over Rise of the Runelords. The difficulty increases in a mostly pleasant arc, there were only a few times where I felt our characters were not ready for the scenario. This could easily be attributed to our character selection and the luck of the draw; meaning how lucky we got at finding loot. This is unlike Rise of the Runelords were characters quickly power the scenarios, even with bad luck.
Skulls has some interesting scenario set-ups that provided some much needed variety to play. Along with that were villains and henchmen that did more than wait for the heroes to show up and kick their butts. Many villains and henchmen, throughout the Adventure Path, have abilities that affect characters before they can act and after they act, forcing players (read us) to plan out more than which weapon we would use.
Monsters were fun. I mean that. The aquatic theme was used well to convey being at sea, on an island, or in port. Rise has a lot of generic monsters that you will find in any fantasy setting. Skulls had a lot of enemies that only make sense in a pirate or at sea theme, such as our favorite the anemone. I say our favorite because in one scenario, in one location, every monster was an anemone. The puns flew fast and furious…”with anemones like this who…”
Loot cards were a bust. I know other people feel differently, but other than being thematically good, the vast amount of loot went unused by our group. Most loot cards got looked at and then put back in the box for storage in favor of something else. Sad thing to me is that each loot card looked and read interesting, but in play most were limited in use, requiring you to encounter something aquatic, pirate, or something else. The loot allies had the most possibility, but other than the ally who got banished for a skill point saw little or no use at all.
Ships. What can I say about ships? Having played through most of Skulls and Shackles, I don’t get the point. Theme wise ships made a lot of sense. Play wise, ships were easy to ignore, a free source of end of scenario cards, and other than that…never saw use. I don’t know. Maybe it was an our group thing, but it did not matter what ship we had, what ship we encountered, weather we were on the ship, or the ship was at sea nothing interesting happened. We toyed around with making a ship character card, where each time you get to choose a new ship class you can choose a ship ability.
We will likely play through Skulls and Shackles a second time and knowing what we know now, choose non-Skulls and Shackles characters…the ships may end up in the box though.