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Rituals of Choice 2: To Kill or Not To Kill (Arcana Evolved) PDF

***** (based on 2 ratings)

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To Kill or Not To Kill?
That is the question...

Is this simply a quest to slay a fell beast? Is it better to slay the monster and collect the reward? Or is it nobler to seek out the why? Would a creature blessed with the mark of the Land break with its fidelity and do murder? Or do you simply ignore the quest and abandon those in need to fend for themselves and find another path?

Only the PCs get to decide.

To Kill or Not To Kill is a Monte Cook's Arcana Evolved adventure designed for four 2nd-level characters. Characters will advance to 3rd level by the end of the adventure. It is the second installment in the Rituals of Choice adventure path, a complete campaign saga consisting of 25 adventures.

The campaign will take characters from this apparently simple monster hunt to an apocalyptic battle for the multiverse at 25th level. The campaign is episodic. The adventures can stand alone, although a plot arc runs through the entire series.

You can find Part 1, A Witch's Choice, here. The full arc becomes clearer with each episode, along with free web enhancements like the Player's Guide and DM's Primer.

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Product Reviews (2)

Average product rating:

***** (based on 2 ratings)

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A modern classic of the craft of adventure-writing

*****

This adventure is 46 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD and 1 page back cover, leaving a total of 42 pages of content, so let's check this out!

This is my second review of one of Rite's excellent Arcana Evolved adventures, which I'll also review with specific consideration for the PFRPG-audience. Thus, this review contains SPOILERS. Potential players might wish to jump to the conclusion, while idea-starved GMs are very heartily encouraged to keep reading!

All right, still here? Good! Claiming their deed for Plungedeep Manor after the first module, the PCs return to town after experiencing a staggering array of choices and omens in part I. Even if you want to play this module as stand-alone, you'll be provided quite a bunch of different adventure hooks - 10 to be precise and all of them go beyond the standard.

Following the theme of dreams, the golden jackal returns in a dream and points the PCs towards a murder most foul - by being pounced and dream-dying - it is this attack that delivers the first clues to solving the complex mystery underlining the plot of this module. The Catchpole of the village of Far-Rough, Gavel Taverson, a Totem-Warrior (could easily be substituted for an animal-focused ranger/druid, btw.!), is investigating two recent murders and is fearing that a rune-marked sacred grave talon called Solange might be responsible, which is doubly problematic since that happens to be Gavel's totem. Worse yet, Gavel might actually be the first suspect as a totem warrior - shapechanging, sickles - has he gone off the deep end? Things get worse, when the PCs find the remains of visiting nobles and tracks of a grynloc-child. Breandra Neverhold, the ostrich-riding faen-woman (fey-like creatures) and daughter of the first murder-victim should be among the PC's first addresses. For a GMs convenience in running the murder mystery, each of the Npcs has extensive information on them, concisely presented, summing up what would make them suspicious, which clues to the puzzle at hand they can deliver etc. - means, motive, opportunity, all bases covered. Lord Golhia and the other Npcs don't make things easy for snooping PCs, as many secret allegiances want to be kept silent by their respective owners. Fret not, though: If the PCs get stumped a dreamhunter named "Rosie" will help them track the killer and the lead points toward the eerie floating forest where, on a vast tree fallen between waterfalls, they will have to negotiate with a deadly balde-troll and his giant hornet-riding goblin henchmen Once the PCs have crossed this bridge, they may encounter the caves of the greenbound Qwayneel, where they can extract a dread parasite from an animal and encounter e.g. the potentially lethal bone vipers.

The true conundrum is laid bare, though: Faced with overwhelming proof, Gavel is on the way to end his career as a totem warrior - while the greenbound wants the PCs to refrain from attacking Solange and instead hear the intelligent, rune-marked animal out. It turns out that the deaths of the nobles can indeed be attributed to the sacred beast, but the death of e.g. the children are not Solange's doing - these can be attributed to another Deinonychus, one infused with the power of 3 dread runes - depending on the job the PCs have done while investigating the crimes, they make actually take the work off this beats, witness the fall of a totem warrior and death of a sacred runemarked creature or something completely different - they have the option to kill or not to kill: Every creature in the module.

The pdf closes with appendices detailing the Deinonychus Totem Warrior, 2 new feats, 1 new spell, 2 new templates and 10 magic items, all with extensive Akashic lore-sight information.

Conclusion:
Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any glitches. Layout adheres to a beautiful, full-color 2-column standard with brilliant full-color artworks and awesome maps by Jonathan Roberts. The pdf comes fully bookmarked.

"To kill or not to kill" has not been nominated for an Ennie for nothing: This module is a joy to behold with an interesting murder mystery that is easy to run, challenging, does not succumb to overtly generalizing b/w-dichotomies and feels logical. Better yet, the respective characters ooze iconicity, the emphasis on choice between life and death, violent and non-violent solutions and the smart usage of dreams as hints make this module an absolute delight to read, while sacrificing none of its predecessor's awesome, dream-like quality to its usability. Indeed, I maintain that with a minimum of work, just about any DM can convert this module to PFRPG and enjoy one of the best murder mysteries out there. Even if you don't want to check out the "Rituals of Choice", even if you play PFRPG and not Arcana Evolved, this module still will be a blast to read and run - try as I might, even if you take the time it takes to do a conversion into account, this pdf remains a superior example of adventure-craft and writing and even for PFRPG-DMs, this should be considered a straight 5 star-recommendation, + seal of approval. If you haven't already, go check it out - this is one of the modules that will be considered a "hidden gem" in the years to come.

Endzeitgeist out.


An RPG Resource Review

*****

The opening of this adventure sets the scene and explains to the DM what is going on, both with this adventure and within the campaign as a whole. While intended as the second installment in the 25-adventure Rituals of Choice campaign, this can be run as a stand-alone adventure, and sufficient background is given for those who wish to do so to use it to reasonable effect - even if some of the longer-running strands of plotline will become irrelevant. If you haven't played A Witch's Choice, there's a selection of reasons as to why the characters might be in town, know each other already and be pre-disposed to taking on the task that will be offered. If you have, this adventure will follow on quite naturally once they arrive in town. Neat.

Now, the adventure itself. This begins in a similar manner to the previous one: a clear signal to characters who were involved therein that there's a connection. A few clues later, they are asked to undertake a task by the catchpole, or local lawman, who needs help in tracking down a killer, possibly a rogue animal, one which he suspects may be his totem creature and so it would be difficult for him to slay it himself. Again events and information flow quick and fast, although by the nature of things the start, at least, will require more thought and interaction than combat. Everything is provided for the DM to enable the adventure to continue just about whatever the characters decide to do at each point. Each NPC comes complete with a detailed backstory and information as to his attitudes and motivations, so that they can be role-played appropriately however the characters choose to approach them.

The adventure is complex with many levels, the DM is advised to be thoroughly familiar with it so as to keep track of all the strands and have the NPCs respond appropriately. While the adventure appears to rely on a lot of investigation and interaction, there are opportunities for combat although at least one is designed to deliberately outclass the characters who would do better to negotiate or run away... As with the previous adventure in this series it does not matter what the outcome of this adventure, the overarching plot will continue, just modified according to the results of the characters' choices and actions. The high standard set with the first adventure continues, again excellent support for the DM and a cracking complex story for the characters to work their way through. Possibly a bit combat-light, but players who are not prepared to make the most of opportunities to role-play will probably not find this adventure path to their taste.



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