Pathfinder Adventure Path #25: The Bastards of Erebus (Council of Thieves 1 of 6) (PFRPG) (based on
Paizo Publishing, LLC
Chapter 1: "The Bastards of Erebus"
by Sean K Reynolds
The city of Westcrown is dying. Since being stripped of its station as the capital of Cheliax, the wealth and prestige of the city has gradually slipped away, leaving the desperate people to fend for themselves in a city beset by criminals, a corrupt nobility, and a shadowy curse. Can the PCs fight back against champions of both the law and the criminal world?
This volume of Pathfinder Adventure Path launches the Council of Thieves Adventure Path, and includes:
"The Bastards of Erebus," a Pathfinder RPG adventure for 1st-level characters, by Sean K Reynolds
A gazetteer of Westcrown, the shadow-haunted City of Twilight, by Steven Schend
An investigation into the lives of tieflings, along with hundreds of fiendish variations, by Amber Scott
A deadly mystery of nobility and intrigue for Pathfinder Varian Jeggare and his tiefling bodyguard Radovan in a new series of the Pathfinder's Jounal, by Dave Gross
Six terrifying new monsters by Mike Ferguson, Sean K Reynolds, and F. Wesley Schneider
A Pathfinder Roleplaying Game adventure for characters of 1st to 3rd level. The Council of Thieves Adventure Path is the first to take full advantage of the new Pathfinder Roleplaying Game rules, and works with both the Pathfinder RPG and the standard 3.5 fantasy RPG rules set.
Pathfinder Adventure Path is Paizo Publishing's monthly 96-page, perfect-bound, full-color softcover book printed on high-quality paper. It contains an in-depth Adventure Path scenario, stats for about a half-dozen new monsters, and several support articles meant to give Game Masters additional material to expand their campaign. Pathfinder Adventure Path volumes use the Open Game License and work with both the Pathfinder RPG and the standard 3.5 fantasy RPG rules set.
Just finsihed running this mod last week and I must say I really enjoyed this module. Though it is not perfect I think it has some very enjoyable qualities/situations, interesting NPCS, and a good story.
I must admit, that as a GM I did alot of editing and work (mainly to adjust my group being 6 players instead of 4, but also fleshing out side quests etc) to make it work.
To make this module work (as a whole as well as with future volumes) I would emphasize the shadows being a huge problem (A large side quest I wrote helped with this) in Westcrown from the beginning. It also helps to throw in Ailyn Ghontsavos (The pathfinder from vol 2) in the wagon w/ Arael, establishing her as a major character from the beginning, as she does her "research".)My party also enjoyed/ understood the idea of the "children of Westcrown" and they recruited a more members into the organization. I also had them do a few side quests (Variations of suggested ones in book, plus a few I threw in) to gain some more fame in Westcrown. (as well as get a better "feel" for the theme/setting of Westcrown. I had a tiefling ambush/encounter/story(from locals) in between each side quest to build up the suspense on the final lair as well.
I really enjoyed the NPCs in the adventure. .From the Leaders Arael and Janiven, to Monosino (the boy everyone ended up loving to hate), to all the children of Westcrown and their individual personality's and motivations. There was alot of interesting stories and it was fun role playing the different personalities with my PCs. They enjoyed this as well. (All there stories also help set the tone of the city)
My Favorite NPC from the module was Thesing Umbero Ulvauno. I look forward to his reoccurring roles in future APs.
The Meat and the Bones:
This module has some fun encounters/situations.
-The sewers are fun and the randomness a nice twist (though I would recommend "building" sewers before game to save time)
-Rescuing Arael was a fun and well written encounter. One of my favorite things in the module
-The tiefling lair is well built. Many ins/outs makes the tieflings extremely mobile (ambushing the PCS!) , and lead to fun encounters and situations
-The two tiefling baddies at end were well written and fun to GM. (I recommend combing them for a particularity lethal and super fun encounter)
The back matter of this Module is worth the price alone.
--A great detailed article on Westcrown. Essential for the AP, and a good read on its own.
--An awesome article of Tieflings, including all kinds of great fluff , but also many racial options and alternative traits (100 of them!).It also includes a wonderful chart of Random tielfing features (100 again) to help flesh out what the tielfings look like visually.
--Part one of a Story by Dave Gross. Need I say more?
--A wonderful bestiary that is also very helpful for the module itself. (Adding some old favorites from 3.5 as well as some fun new monsters)
Overall I really enjoyed this Adventure Path Volume!
This review is about the Bastards of Erebus adventure, not the AP as a whole.
Bastards of Erebus fails both as the launching of the Council of Thieves adventure path and as an adventure in its own right. While I am willing to forgive the the conversion issues; there are several MAJOR problems with the story itself.
Spoilered for those individuals who intend to run this AP (including myself).
The first problem starts before the adventure, with the CoT Player’s Guide. The provided “campaign traits” simply suggest little to no motivation for the heroes to want to accomplish the tasks of the Bastards, let alone the AP as a whole. The adventure attempts to fix this by requiring that the heroes must have a problem with the way the Westcrown is run, but that leads to the next problem.
Janiven Kay’s speech, two or more battles with the Order of the Rack Hellknights, and the introduction of Ariel’s group all imply that the heroes will be part of a resistance movement against House Thrune. Unfortunately, this is not what the AP is about at all, so this sets up a “bait-n-switch” almost as bad as Second Darkness.
As a side note, the battles with the Hellknights in this adventure ruin the buildup that the Hellknights had received in both Rise of the Runelords and especially Curse of the Crimson Throne. This adventure sets the Hellknights up as "keystone cops." Also, fighting the Hellknights in this adventure creates a dissonance with The Twice-Damned Prince where the heroes are expected to ally with the Hellkights.
The titular "Bastards of Erebus" gang seem to pop out of nowhere in “part 5” of a six part adventure. As they have done nothing to the characters, nor have any of the crimes in the city even been mentioned before now, so why would the heroes want to fight them? Worse, if any of the PCs are Tieflings themselves, these PCs are – if anything – going to be sympathetic to the Bastards.
Beyond that, the support articles are fine, though I wish that the included monsters in the AP installment’s Bestiary were more used in the adventure itself.
All in all, I find myself needed to re-write this entire installment.
As an introduction to the Council of Thieves AP, this adventure fails to impress. The first section is "have random encounters until you get bored", and the final section is terribly short. There are good ideas here, but they are buried by horrible writing and editing. It took our group of five players about 5 hours to play through the entire thing.
I'm playing in this adventure path and it seams to really require the PCs to be the heros and do what the NPC leader wants you to do (Sorta like a Shadowrun Mr. Johnson). Its fun but it would work better with a little lead in like maybe your spys from another nation or something.I've gamed with this GM many times so I think its more of the material than the GMing. It probably is one of those adventures with a ton of GM information that never (or almost never) comes out in play.
After having DM'ed this first module I have made some observations. It starts off great, but if you follow the rules as written then the escape has far to many encounters, none of which are extremely interesting. A little modification gives off a much better journey and the feel that they are rushing even more.
The next part is socially heavy and extremely difficult to run as there are 10+ NPC who will have to be introduced in one scene. That is to much for anyone to bite off in one go, but if you only use a few of these at a time it will be an awesome experience as everyone has a more or less plausible reason to there.
The event that follow is quite fun, and there are a few elements that make the encounter memorable, and the fact that you are rewarded differently if you act one way or another is awesome, and it is followed by a fun social encounter, we sure had a few laughs.
The fact that there are several "sidequests" that the PC's can follow if they like when they like, gives the feeling at it is an open world rather than a railroad plot. That these quests are more or less for the DM to decide makes them applicable at anypoint later in the adventure path and could be challenging at any level.
The final "run" has a few quite stimulating encounters, but for 3 level 2 heroes it was a bit to hard. They needed to rest during the dungeon and that was not supported by the adventure path. Even with a rest they only managed to complete the quest due to reduced amount of bad guys and good rolls on their part and bad on mine. The encounters however was great fun, and that guy who appears to be something else was awesome, the cleric trying to burn him and turn him. Awesome twist on an otherwise poor adversary, gave him that twist wile not making him overpowered.
The two main bad dudes are awesome, and fun to use and they gave some flavor to the fights.
All in all a good start to something that will eventually be great.
On a side note, the fact that it is an organization that reaps the fame rather than the heroes makes dealing with PC fatalities more easy as well as adding and removing them.