An urban, wilderness, and dungeon adventure for 8th-level characters
A malignant cult has taken root in the mystical and magical realm of Jalmeray. Known and feared throughout distant Vudra, the cult of Dhalavei has expertly destroyed organizations and societies from within for millennia. Now a new sect of the sinister Cult of the Ebon Destroyers has its sights set on Thakur Kharswan of Jalmeray, and the magistrates and bureaucrats behind the throne must hunt down and eliminate the cult before the unthinkable happens. If only there were someone they could trust to behead Dhalavei's cult before the assassins do the same to their beloved ruler…
Cult of the Ebon Destroyers is an adventure for 8th-level characters, written for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game and compatible with the 3.5 edition of the world’s oldest RPG. In addition to the adventure, this volume also features a brand-new monster and a gazetteer of the city of Niswan, capital of the Isle of Jalmeray.
Written by Matthew Goodall, the winner of Paizo Publishing's RPG Superstar contest, which allows unpublished authors to compete before a panel of celebrity game designers and legions of their peers for the chance to write a Pathfinder Module.
Pathfinder Modules are 32-page, high-quality, full-color, adventures using the Open Game License to work with both the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game and the standard 3.5 fantasy RPG rules set. This Pathfinder Module includes new monsters, treasure, and a fully detailed bonus location that can be used as part of the adventure or in any other game!
I had the pleasure of playing this mod at the Ruby Phoenix convention in Sydney. I'd travelled from Darwin to attend the con, so I was really stoked that a lot of high quality modules were on offer... including Cult of the Ebon Destroyers.
The lead-in to the mod is excellent. There's a lot of flavour and a real sense of 'you are there' put into the module, with a lot of nice touches like pre-generated divinations and the like. That made my day. It can be frustrating, though... this module has a reputation for being very tough, but the first part really requires a social face, a skill/knowledge type person and someone who can cast divinations. This might suggest that it's a social module where you can bring your "non-combat characters" and have a ball, and for a time it seems like you're right.
Then the combat hits, and wow. It's brutal stuff.
Extremely high AC combat munchkins coming pre-buffed, lots of monks with moderately difficult fort saves (fighter-types need only roll 1s to fail, but there are a lot of them), and you're fighting in their home territory so the terrain is perfectly geared towards maximising their advantages.
We had a very optimized party (although we lacked ranged and/or arcane support) and we couldn't complete the module. We had two PC deaths including our two toughest characters, and the rest of the party were stat-drained/negative levelled to the point they were ineffective.
The combats are unique. Flavourful. Interesting. And, one must remember, you're fighting a death cult. They're not weak and soft and squishy -- properly run, they should go for the throat at all times, including coup-de-grace and other such things. They're death cultists and should be played appropriately.
The lead-in was extremely flavourful, the roleplaying was excellent, and the overall story remarkable in its execution. I think the only bad thing I have to say about this module is that it needed to decide if it was a social/investigative or a combat-fest... it tried to be both, and while it pulled it off really nicely, you have to bring a fully optimized party to this or you're going to either get stuck in the first half or die horribly in the second.
But what's the point of playing Pathfinder if there's not a chance of death?
Honestly having played this it was the toughest and most challenging series of games I have played to date in PFS and honestly the most fun I have had, every single challenge was worthy of our team of adventurers and there was no need to hold back for fear of outshining the combats.
The investigation stage was extremely well written and performed masterfully by the GM, with the party having to work together and pool our abilities to accomplish the task.
The Combats were well ran and extremely well built giving me a new appreciation for the capabilities of NPCs, honestly I havent felt this much of a threat to my PC's survival since I started PFS and I would love it if every game felt this challenging.
All in probably among the best hours I have had playing PFS, I will admit if you arent in to serious challenges maybe you should steer clear of this one, but if you want to have a blast against challenges that will test you to your limits this is definately the mod for you.
I find myself in a rather odd position, having read all of the other reviews, I am a little confused. Other reviewers stated that the combat components have the potential to kill players, is that not what a good encounter should do, without risk there is no reward, surviving some of the encounters by the skin of your teeth, gave me a wonderful sense of achievement.
They also say that the module is combat heavy, when combined with the setting this makes sense. Mr Goodall creates a wonder tapestry of background, locations and characters in an area very rarely utilised. Characters won’t know everything about the socio-economical, historical and political structure like they would with Absalom and its real world counterpart shares the same situation. Mr Goodall in putting in lots of combat, while still putting in role-playing opportunities means that everything gets to do something while sitting at the table.
To sum this all up this module sits in my top 5 RPG modules I have played EVER.
Exotic setting, check.
Great moments, check (all of the battles were memorable)
A great game that makes you want to play any and everything Mr Goddall has written, is writing and will write in the future, check
I played this a while back now and I am looking forward to running for my guys soon.
I find the difference between an ‘ok’ session and a great session is GM preparation, luckily, I had a GM who had run the adventure before and who brought a whole lot of energy and gusto to the game.
None of us had experienced this exotic place before, none of the party could speak the language (but that is who it should be landing in a new city) how often do you get that feeling of a fish out of water?
We were a party of mixed player experience levels and while some of us play together regularly - the real challenge was working together as a team against intelligent enemies who actually behave like PC’s would (which is great, why wouldn’t a BBEG be buffed if his home is being attacked? Seriously?)
If I had any advice it would be to take the time to get to know the strengths and weakness of your fellow party members - work together as team and you'll have a great game.
I loved the experience I gained from this one – and I have a chronicle worthy of some respect (and it was well earned).