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Way of the Wicked—Book #1: Knot of Thorns (PFRPG)

***** (based on 17 ratings)
FRM1001E

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BE THE BAD GUY!

The Kingdom of Talingarde is the most noble, virtuous, peaceful nation in the known world. Herein is the story of how you burned this insipid paradise to the ground.

It's only fair. They burned you first.

They condemned you for your wicked deeds. They branded you. They shipped you to the worst prison in the kingdom. In three days, you die. In three days, the do-gooders pray they'll be rid of you.

They've given you three days. The fools, that's more than you need to break out. And then, it will be their turn to face the fire.

Welcome to the first chapter of the "Way of the Wicked" adventure path! Inside you'll find:

  • "Knot of Thorns," an adventure for 1st level villains compatible with the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game by Gary McBride.
  • Full color art and maps by Michael Clarke
  • A gazetteer of brave, noble, doomed Talingarde
  • Advice for running a successful villainous campaign
  • Rules for creating wicked PCs
  • A 100-page full color PDF (including printer friendly version) full of vice and villainy.
  • And more!

You've saved the world plenty.

This time, the world needs saving from you.

Product Availability


Print/PDF Bundle: This product is a backorder. The PDF will be added to your My Downloads Page immediately upon purchase.

PDF: Fulfilled immediately. Will be added to your My Downloads Page immediately upon purchase of PDF.

Are there errors or omissions in this product information? Got corrections? Let us know at webmaster@paizo.com.

FRM1001B


See Also:

Product Discussion (1,390)
251 to 300 of 1,390 << first < prev | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | next > last >>

Xzaral,

Wow. That was brutal. 76 points of damage... unbelievable.

Still, the little bugger probably had it coming. :)

But seriously, glad to hear you're having a good time. Congratulate your player. I've been watching several pbp games and had numberous play reports and he's the first PC death I've heard about.

He may literally be, in all the world, the first to die along the "Way of the Wicked".

He's a pioneer!

Gary McBride
Fire Mountain Games

Qadira

Question for you Gary. If a PC dies, is there a contingency plan to have them come back? In regular games you'd just make up a new character, but these are chain ganged inmates. You can't just have another random person joining the group. Seems rather forced having Thorn introduce a new member, going "This person is also worthy of becoming a new knot member. Since you're done one person, they'll be joining you. He's already passed all of the tests to make it in." Ta-da.

I know in games I've been in, one of the first rewards our "employer" has given us, if he was a mage, was a "one time only" clone. There's also been access to resurrection scrolls. Reading over the two adventure paths, I don't really seem room for stuff like that.

Somehow Thorn doesn't seem like the being who'd go "Oh, they died. Guess that means they're worth the resources of a clone or resurrection." He'd just get a new group to be his knot.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Kevin,

This is a great question and I believe I have now been asked it sufficient times that I am going put in at least a 2-page article about in either book 5 or 6. I'm leaning towards Book Six since that way I can do an overview of the entire campaign and how to replace players at every point in one article.

Here is the short answer to tide you over until that article comes out and it is spoiler-tagged because it is necessarily spoilerific:

Spoiler:

Every PC death is individual and of course they all must be handled uniquely. That said, here are three natural vectors for introducing new PCs to a group as secretive and as evil as the Nessian Knot.

1) Thorn

Thorn wants to see his Knots remain vital and capable of fulfilling their missions and so he is always on the lookout for new talent. If he learns that the Nessian Knot is understrength (and he likely will thanks to certain devices in the PC's possession), he will send a replacement as quick as he can. The truth is that Thorn has been recruiting acolytes for years both within Talingarde and abroad. He could send literally anyone to help out the Ninth Knot. They would arrive with a letter bearing Thorn's seal and a rough understanding of the mission and its importance. This vector could even be an important clue for figuring out that Thorn is watching them magically and that if they intend to betray him (important in book 5!) that they must defeat his scrying.

Forced? Maybe. But this is probably the simplest and least handwaving way to quickly introduce a new PC and get back to the business of villainy.

2) Asmodeus

At several key points during the campaign it becomes clear that the big A himself watches the PC's progress. He changes the champion plate into dastard plate in Book One. He changes the sky above the Vale of Valtaerna to blood red in Book Three. And more. In some ways, your touch with this fiat must be light. But as way to introduce a new PC -- it could totally work. It was your destiny to join the Nessian Knot.

3) Minion/Cohort Promotion

By the beginning of Book Two, the PCs will have their own evil organizaiton working for them. One of their minions could prove particularly loyal and competent and be promoted to a PC. This could even be an established NPC, if a PC wanted to take on that roll. Someone could end up playing Trick for example after the Seventh is destroyed. Heck, someone could even end up playing Grumblejack. Or one of the Orphans in Farholde could prove particularly talented. Either way, a new PC is introduced and the PCs have little reason to be too suspicious since they recruited and hand-selected their new member.

Anyways, that's all for now.

Hope that helps,
Gary McBride
Fire Mountain Games


Fire Mountain Games wrote:

Xzaral,

Wow. That was brutal. 76 points of damage... unbelievable.

Still, the little bugger probably had it coming. :)

But seriously, glad to hear you're having a good time. Congratulate your player. I've been watching several pbp games and had numberous play reports and he's the first PC death I've heard about.

He may literally be, in all the world, the first to die along the "Way of the Wicked".

He's a pioneer!

Gary McBride
Fire Mountain Games

Ah, my poor halfling. None of my rogues ever survive. I played one in Council of Thieves and was demolished to about -24 hp by a skeleton triceratops. When my rogues die, they go all out lol.

Still, successfully implicating Edderly in the staged murder suicide of the Mott family with the use of the love letters (some forged) is worth the spectacular death. That and hiding next to Mrs. Mott's corpse lol.

Next up, Human Bones Oracle, sort of a voodoo version of Xykon from OotS. Now, how will I hide my undead horde :)


ChazzAtron5000,

Ah, almost a necromancer! Awesome, we continue throughout the entire adventure path to have scads of supports for necromancers and their ilk.

What sort of evil adventure path would this be after all, if there were no love for one of RPG's most archetypical villains?

Gary McBride
Fire Mountain Games


I just posted my review of this here and on RPG Now. Suffice to say that this is a great book and if you can get it at all in dead tree format, then do so.

And I'm highly impressed by the turnaround from RPG Now. Two days after they informed me it was in the mail, I got it. Now that's fast!

And I suppose I might as well ask this here: is there a recommended size for the part(ies) involved in this adventure/campaign?


Eric,

Thanks for the glowing review. I am really glad you enjoy the book.

The "Way of the Wicked" adventure path will take four PCs from first to twentieth level. That said, it is easy enough to expand to six. A few more monsters here, a few 'advanced' templates there and viola! Six villains against Talingarde.

Anyways, thanks again for supporting "Way of the Wicked".

Gary McBride
Fire Mountain Games


Game continues to go well:

Spoiler:
Since almost none of my PC's botherd to take knowledge(local) or (geography), they didn't have a clue about the delay caused by Odenkirk's seal hunt, aside from it taking multiple days. It wasn't until afterwards that the half-orc figured out they had been going the wrong way for a while. I chose to avoid the bunyips, my PC's had had enough splashing around. The fight with ice mephit was over quickly, the fire oracle making it that way.
After raising a ruckus at the bugbear camp dock, they met with Fire-Axe and later got him to reveal some info about Thorn and the other knots.
The evening concluded with the destruction of the Frosthamar and Odenkirk. The PC's jumped Odenkirk as the ship made its way up to the shore, and between the rogue and and spellstrike with shocking grasp from the bladebound magus, Odenkirk went down in one round without ever launching an attack. It took the PC's a bit to take down the rest of the crew, even though the PC's themselves were in no real danger at that point. Most interesting parts of the night were watching the flame oracle gnome and human witch alternating between casting stabilize and bleed, respictively. the other interesting thing was the flame oracle healing Odenkirk up to zero and then using his flaming touch ability to slowly burn Asmodeus' mark into his just, keeping him awake and alive through the whole process, and then leaving him to burn with his ship. They were quite proud of themselves.

On a completely unrelated note, I am having concerns about my rogue. The player has made repeated statements that he is "just in this for the money", which I've explained out of game to the character that this is a bad idea, and doesn't really fit. But the player ignores me, so here is what I am thinking. After the next time he says something along those lines or attempts something I would consider a greedy action, he would have a dream during his next rest. Big A would be there,they'd have a short chat about loyalty and such, concluding with a little reminder from Big A in the form of a blow to the rogue's chest with his ruby mace. When the rogue wakes up, he has a very valuable looking shard of ruby imbedded in his chest, however it can't removed (well, at least not without killing him), and until he straightens up a bit, reduces his max hit points (I'm thinking something similar to having a Con drain, but without actually reducing his Con score) and overall is rather painful and has a tendency to bleed if he's not careful (or he starts getting greedy).


1 person marked this as a favorite.

They made it out!

Spoiler:
My half-elf magus, halfling knife master, elf witch, anti-paladin of Zon-Kuthon, and shifter fighter (from Eberron) managed to break out of Branderscar Prison. They got out of their cells on the last night before their executions, killed the guards in the inner keep, and took Blackerly as their hostage. Unfortunately a signal horn was blown a few times, so the guards outside came around, but the Kuthite managed to bar the front doors.

The had Blackerly stall the Warden and other guards outside (under threat of Grumblejack) and made their escape with one of the portable windows from Tiadora's Veil. Unfortunately they got caught by one of the watchtower guards and the fight began. Warden Ricter got the Anti-Paladin with Hideous Laughter, the dogs kept tripping people, and Grumblejack got the scroll of sleep for most of the fight. Thankfully the magus, rogue, and fighter managed to kill the guards and dogs, then the Anti-Paladin decapitated the Warden. From there it was just one last guard in the gatehouse and they went off into the moor. It was pretty close their (I may have fudged some rolls, DM privilege), but they did make it through. Can't wait for them to meet Cardinal Thorn!


John,

Another great play report. Thanks!

And...

Spoiler:

Your version of Odenkirk's death is officially the coolest I have yet read. And I have now read more than a dozen. Congratulate your players.

That gets the Fire Mountain Games seal of approval!

Now onward! Balentyne must burn!

OmegaZ wrote:
They made it out!

That, sir, is an awesome play report! Very cool.

Spoiler:

Taking Blackerly hostage. A wrinkle I have not yet seen! So, is he still alive and their prisoner after their escape?

Anyways, thanks for the play report, guys!

Keep 'em coming!

Gary McBride
Fire Mountain Games


Fire Mountain Games wrote:

Eric,

Thanks for the glowing review. I am really glad you enjoy the book.

The "Way of the Wicked" adventure path will take four PCs from first to twentieth level. That said, it is easy enough to expand to six. A few more monsters here, a few 'advanced' templates there and viola! Six villains against Talingarde.

Anyways, thanks again for supporting "Way of the Wicked".

Gary McBride
Fire Mountain Games

Thanks for the response, and if the rest of the books are like this then I'll gladly buy them all in POD form.

And I forgot to mention, I love all the little historical references I get. I already mentioned the whole Darius/Mitra thing and Tiadora's little remark, but I also like the bit of backstory about how everything went down at the main battle between the Houses of Barca and Darius. Battle of Crecy or Poitiers, I think?


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Eric Hinkle wrote:
And I forgot to mention, I love all the little historical references I get. I already mentioned the whole Darius/Mitra thing and Tiadora's little remark, but I also like the bit of backstory about how everything went down at the main battle between the Houses of Barca and Darius. Battle of Crecy or Poitiers, I think?

Battle of Crecy. Wow. I am impressed by that catch.

Yes, indeed. I even stole the most memorable line for the Barcan knights straight from the mouth of the French commander.

And in book three...

Spoiler:

The First Battle of Saintsbridge is also modeled after a historical battle. I wonder if you can guess which one?

Regardless, its gratifying that someone is taking the time to read my book so closely.

Gary McBride
Fire Mountain Games


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Cards, Companion, Maps Subscriber

So we've been discussing possible characters, and this interaction took place.

My Gaming Life


Geistlinger,

Hah!

The answer to can I play a good plant, in my professional opinion, is of course "Not just no, but by the nine hells, no!"

But you know that.

Gary McBride
Fire Mountain Games


Quick Question. First, celebration, as my party brought back Grumblejack when their new Druid (a player not able to join the first session) healed him up! yay!

Ok, the actual question.

possible minor spoiler:
What equipment should Grumblejack arm himself with when Thorn outfits the party?


1 person marked this as a favorite.

DSRMT,

Congratulate your party for me for getting Grumblejack out alive. From what I've seen reported only about half of the PC groups manage that feat.

Anyways to answer your question...

Spoiler:

The picture in Book Two has him armed with a wicked looking large mace, but he is proficient with all martial weapons.

Wow, I noticed some errata. In the armory should be Grumblejack's old battered greatsword and ogre-sized chain. Hah! I'll update that the next time I do a fix.

Really, the choice is your players. Tiadora can probably be talked in spending a couple of hundred gold on his gear in her shopping trips. At least he should get some hide armor, a great club and some javelins (to make him as well armed as a normal ogre).

Further upgrades will probably require either negotiation or PC investment. So, I guess it depends on evil's generosity. To be fair, Grumblejack is a VERY useful brute to bring along on their adventures. So they may be willing.

He's a CR 3 creature, roughly the equivalent of a 4th level character. When the PCs hit 7th level (in Book Two) if he's still around give him a level of fighter and advance him every time the PCs do from then on (make him count as a cohort if a PC takes the leadership feat). Sometime in that book, he'll probably pick up the half-fiend template. Since it takes solving a puzzle to activate that template, I would not count it against their cohort total if they manage to give him that template. Think of that boon to their cohort as part of their treasure.

Anyways, hope that helps and I hope your PCs and Grumblejack have a long and wicked career together.

Gary McBride
Fire Mountain Games


Fire Mountain Games wrote:

Gary McBride
Fire Mountain Games

I've got a twisted imagination...

Spoiler:
They tied both of Blackerly's arms to the double doors in the Grand Hall of Branderscar, so he couldn't get away, then intimidated him into "negotiating" with the Warden. After that they went to Blackerly's room and used a portable window to escape. Problem was, Grumblejack couldn't squeeze through the small opening. The PC's get outside, start fighitng, and a few rounds later hear an agonizing scream as Grumblejack forced the doors open, tearing off Blackerly's arms in the process. Gruesome, but I thought it was fitting for Grumblejack and Blackerly.


So I've got a slight conundrum. This won't be a problem for a while (which is potentially a good thing or a bad thing, depending on how you look at it).

If and when I get to run this, I'm probably going to set this in Golarion. Easy enough, I just have to find a nice body of water to place the island nation, and I'm set.

Now, the conundrum comes in this particular flavor. One of my players really wants to play a Hellknight. Now while I can figure out how to fit this into Golarion, specifically fitting a Hellknight into the campaign is harder for me to wrap my brain around.

I'll go to spoiler mode just keep anything from sneaking into the conversation.

Spoiler:
I'm picturing that there might have been a Hellknight outpost before Asomodeus' religion was scoured from the island, and the Hellknight fortress was razed as well.

This would be a double incentive to reinstate Asmodeus' religion, but I'm having a hard time figuring out if a Hellknight would explore a new country and get caught committing a crime.

Any thoughts on what might get a Hellknight in trouble?


Paizo Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber

Jared:

Spoiler:
Hellknight is a prestige class, so the character will not be a hellknight from the start of the adventure. You could spin it this way perpaps: once the character is advanced enough to fulfull the prerequisites to become a hellknight, Cardinal Thorn could "invest" him and maybe even found a new hellknight order fpr Talingarde (or re-found one that was wiped out after the succession war).


4 people marked this as a favorite.

Jared,

Hellknights are part of Paizo's IP so of course they're are not going to get any offical Fire Mountain Games support.

That said...

Spoiler:

The Castle Branding (now Branderscar) once was the base of operations of the Order of the Brand, a group of Hellknights who fought with the Barcan king eighty years ago to keep him on the throne.

They were slaughtered almost to a man at the Battle of Tamberlyn. The only vestige of their order left is a badge in the Branderscar Hall of History (room 21). The PC finds it during the prison breaks and perhaps realizes his destiny.

For his part, Cardinal Thorn would love to see the Order of the Brand reestablished in Talingarde to support his scion's ascension.

The Brand will burn again.

Hope that helps,
Gary McBride
Fire Mountain Games


Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber
Fire Mountain Games wrote:
Hellknights are part of Paizo's IP so of course they're are not going to get any offical Fire Mountain Games support.

I thought that you could use them, since the mechanics involving them (such as their prestige class(es)) were Open Game Content, which also included the name "hellknight."


Hellknight qua prestige class is open game content, but Hellknight qua organization is not.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber
hogarth wrote:
Hellknight qua prestige class is open game content, but Hellknight qua organization is not.

Yeah, but once the term is entered into Open Game Content, it can be used in-and-of itself anywhere, I believe.

To put it another way, they could use the term "hellknight" in the descriptive text, and not just in the prestige class listing or in a stat block, so long as they didn't repeat any of Paizo's closed content flavor text about the organization; they could, however, write original material about the hellknights group.


Fire Mountain Games wrote:

DSRMT,

Congratulate your party for me for getting Grumblejack out alive. From what I've seen reported only about half of the PC groups manage that feat.

Anyways to answer your question...
** spoiler omitted **

Anyways, hope that helps and I hope your PCs and Grumblejack have a long and wicked career together.

Gary McBride
Fire Mountain Games

It's a shame to hear the bad news about Grumblejack from so many campaigns, but then I suppose it does make sense. He is a very big target; if the guards catch the villains escaping, they'd probably be aiming for him.

And I like the ideas on what he can be armed with if we do manage to take him along and keep him alive.


Alzrius,

Regarding hellknights, I understand we can use the prestige class. In fact, an NPC with that very prestige class appears in Book V. Maybe several NPCs.

But what we can't do is detail why Cheliaxian Hellknights have come to Talingarde. First, that would violate Paizo's IP. And second, it would defeat our purpose of making this world as generic as possible while still having a compelling storyline.

Anyways, regardless, I encourage PCs and GMs to use Hellknights in this adventure path. Certainly, they are more than thematically appropriate. And it really is a rich prestige class.

Gary McBride
Fire Mountain Games


2 people marked this as a favorite.
Eric Hinkle wrote:

It's a shame to hear the bad news about Grumblejack from so many campaigns, but then I suppose it does make sense. He is a very big target; if the guards catch the villains escaping, they'd probably be aiming for him.

And I like the ideas on what he can be armed with if we do manage to take him along and keep him alive.

In one campaign report that was sent to me, the villains drugged him and set him on fire ... as a distraction.

I know that treating your minions badly is part of the genre, but that just seems a little gratuitious.

Gary McBride
Fire Mountain Games


Fire Mountain Games wrote:
Eric Hinkle wrote:

It's a shame to hear the bad news about Grumblejack from so many campaigns, but then I suppose it does make sense. He is a very big target; if the guards catch the villains escaping, they'd probably be aiming for him.

And I like the ideas on what he can be armed with if we do manage to take him along and keep him alive.

In one campaign report that was sent to me, the villains drugged him and set him on fire ... as a distraction.

I know that treating your minions badly is part of the genre, but that just seems a little gratuitious.

Gary McBride
Fire Mountain Games

I should say so. That's what you reserve for the incompetent who's sole use is as a distraction, not the loyal and intelligent 10-foot tall monster able to pluck people limb from limb with their bare hands.


Eric Hinkle wrote:
Fire Mountain Games wrote:
Eric Hinkle wrote:

It's a shame to hear the bad news about Grumblejack from so many campaigns, but then I suppose it does make sense. He is a very big target; if the guards catch the villains escaping, they'd probably be aiming for him.

And I like the ideas on what he can be armed with if we do manage to take him along and keep him alive.

In one campaign report that was sent to me, the villains drugged him and set him on fire ... as a distraction.

I know that treating your minions badly is part of the genre, but that just seems a little gratuitious.

Gary McBride
Fire Mountain Games

I should say so. That's what you reserve for the incompetent who's sole use is as a distraction, not the loyal and intelligent 10-foot tall monster able to pluck people limb from limb with their bare hands.

But what use is a loyal,and intelligent 10-foot tall monster that is able to tear people limb from limb with its bare hands if you CAN'T drug it and light it on fire when you want/need to?

Think of it like a test. A really good minion can get lit on fire, do the job and come back cowed and ready to serve more. Do you really want a minion who isn't willing (or terrified enough) to go the extra mile for you? I wouldn't, that's for sure.

Kudos on this path so far. I just grabbed the first two parts (based on the reviews I've seen) and I'm kicking myself for not doing it sooner.

My group has talked about trying an evil campaign, but the lack of decent framework has always kept it from happening. The first two parts of Way of the Wicked puts enough planning and freedom in the players' hands to keep them happy and let them be creative while keeping it from devolving into pointless "EVIL".

We're expecting to finish up our current campaign in a month or so, so I'll broach the subject with them then. I don't mind the wait since that will give me enough time to get Book III when it comes out in April. I prefer to have at least half of an adventure path in hand before I start to run it so that I have lots of time for foreshadowing, plotting, and know that I'm much, much less likely to hit a wall if we happen to speed through something quicker than I thought we would. Not that I expect them to speed through Book II (or Book I for that matter), but better safe than sorry.

By the way, I love the suggested rolling method for character creation. It looks like it makes a nice balance, which is nice since I have one player who is an Uber-powergamer and 5 others who are much more casual, and its always a struggle to make sure the powergamer doesn't overshadow the other characters. The only addition I'm going thinking of adding to the rolling method is that players must re-roll the four rolled stats (they can't pick and choose) if the net modifiers are four and below or 12 and above.


Tobias,

Hah! You, sir, are ready to start dumping minions in your piranha tank. Practice saying this, "You fools! The paladin is still alive?!You have failed me for the last time..." :)

But seriously, thanks for the kind words and I'm glad you are enjoying the books. If you do run "Way of the Wicked", be sure to post even a brief summary of your sessions. I for one would love to hear about your party's villainous exploits.

More is on the way. Book Three drops in April. We've posted some of our first preview art for that book on our Facebook page.

You've burned Balentyne. You've held the Horn. But do your villains have what it takes to conquer the Cathedral of Mitra Made Manifest?

We will see.

Gary McBride
Fire Mountain Games


Fire Mountain Games wrote:

Tobias,

Hah! You, sir, are ready to start dumping minions in your piranha tank. Practice saying this, "You fools! The paladin is still alive?!You have failed me for the last time..." :)

Great... now I have to drag out my copy of Dungeonscape to get the Acidborn Monster template all set and ready to go. Because the only thing that's better than a piranha tank is an acid filled piranha tank.

Quote:
But seriously, thanks for the kind words and I'm glad you are enjoying the books. If you do run "Way of the Wicked", be sure to post even a brief summary of your sessions. I for one would love to hear about your party's villainous exploits.

Will do. Looking forward to the next installment.

Oh, and I'd just like to say how much I'm enjoying the "closing text" found at the end of each segment/chapter. It really reminds me of the narrator from the Dungeon Keeper video games, which is more than a little fitting. ;)


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Now, I have only used the free preview for one of my groups as a prelude to Skull and Shackles, but my two players (third couldn't make it) enjoyed it a lot. :)

Spoiler:
It was however rather brutal with 2 PCs (Oracle and Fighter) + Grumblejack whom they decided to free at the last minute.
After a long and bloody fight in the courtyard, the sergeant and last standing PC fell in the same round. End result: Grumble jack escaping with one unconscious PC over each shoulder. (PCs never looked for their equipment, and as such were unarmored.)

Purchased to mine for ideas. :)


Leonal,

Very cool! Now that is a minion you keep!

And thanks for supporting Fire Mountain Games and "Way of the Wicked." I would love if after you finished reading the book(s), you would let us know what you think. A post would be good. A review would be even better. We love feedback!

Regardless, thanks for giving a new third party publisher a chance!

Gary McBride
Fire Mountain Games


Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Fire Mountain Games wrote:
Eric Hinkle wrote:

It's a shame to hear the bad news about Grumblejack from so many campaigns, but then I suppose it does make sense. He is a very big target; if the guards catch the villains escaping, they'd probably be aiming for him.

And I like the ideas on what he can be armed with if we do manage to take him along and keep him alive.

In one campaign report that was sent to me, the villains drugged him and set him on fire ... as a distraction.

I know that treating your minions badly is part of the genre, but that just seems a little gratuitious.

Gary McBride
Fire Mountain Games

If only they'd had a wheelbarrow, and a holocaust cloak!


Oddly, my Rogue Trader group said the same thing last Thursday. Right after they talked an Ogryn into joining the crew . . . hm.

Qadira

Hey Gary. Got an issue with my group who basically are going to tell Thorn where to stick it.

Spoiler:
Tiadora has already met with the PCs, and they've got the veil to help them escape. They know they've got three days before the execution, and are talking about what happened, and what they plan on doing once they get out. While they're willing to speak with Thorn regarding payback for helping them get out of prison, they have their own plans, and they don't include him at all. They had to get on their own. He only provided the tool to make it possible. That's all the payback they're willing to compensate him for. They've already got everything planned out. And I mean everything. They're basically writing the campaign for me. They're going to get out, rob and pillage the same area a half dozen times, then move on to another area and do the same thing only three times, then move on again. This way they can't be followed or tricked.

Next, they'll take what they've stolen and enter various cities as traveling minstrels or performers. The evangelist cleric will have people try to follow him, and if anyone speaks blasphemy, the pyromancer will light him on fire from afar as the cleric proclaims that heresy gets you sent to hell. While everyone's frantically running away, the assassin and ninja will pick everyone's pockets.

They know it'll take a while, but they'll then start taking the provisions they gain to start building various potions and magic weapons, and creating their own black market. Should Thorn wish to get a cut, he'll have to earn his place in their ranks.

With their millions of gold, and the creation of the black market, they'll use their funds to have everyone paid off to hunt down the key individuals that had them sent to jail. With them in chains, the PCs will brand each and everyone with them in far worse and more painful ways. Possibly even humiliating ways like having all of the scars be put on their backsides so they can't sit down for months.

Then they'll rule over the country with the iron fist of Asmodeus.

This is what they come up with over the course of a single night, and they haven't even escaped yet. I reminded them of that, but they're more than confident that they'll pull it off unless I purposely kill them off because I feel like being a killer DM.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
kevin_video wrote:

Hey Gary. Got an issue with my group who basically are going to tell Thorn where to stick it.

** spoiler omitted **...

Well,

Spoiler:
the book does talk about how to deal with this. It basically comes down to letting them do as they wish, but not letting them off scot-free. They're some of the worst criminals on the island (apparently) and they just pulled off something no one was thought possible by escaping.

Follow the book's suggestion. They've been branded, so no one will trade with them. They have everyone for miles looking for them.

Then there's the fact that their blatant "revivals" are going to draw the attention of local Mitra followers, bringing the very people they don't want after them right to their door.

Let them get away with the meeting once, maybe twice, then send the guards after them. Possibly at the tent, possibly chasing after them just after they leave town. And then have the number of people chasing them (and the resources they use) go up as these escaped criminals start to compound their crimes with blasphemy and other sundry thefts and murders.

Then, as the book suggests, have Thorn come in at the last moment, or maybe have Tiadora come by and demand they go visit the Master when the heat is getting really bad and they are struggling to look for a way out.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
kevin_video wrote:

Hey Gary. Got an issue with my group who basically are going to tell Thorn where to stick it.

** spoiler omitted **...

I'm not Gary, but I've got some thoughts.

Spoiler:
If they actually revere Asmodeus, then having nightmarish dreams and such that seem to be sendings showing them that Asmodeus wants them to follow Thorn's plan might work.

If that doesn't work, having their own private meeting with a fiend, some minor one, that tells them "there will be a time to prove if you are worthy to lead, but for now, the plan is tantamount."

That is, if you want to me more heavy handed, and for some groups, you may have to be.

On the other hand, you could let them try to enact their plan, and have it blow up in their face (unexpected reinforcements show up, silver dragons circling nearby), and then have Thorn show up and explain that only together, with a plan, can they avoid set backs like this.

Just some random thoughts. Gary's had some brilliant advice for all sorts of questions though, which just helps increase my faith in his ability to pull off this whole AP.

Qadira

Tobias wrote:

Well,

** spoiler omitted **

spoiler:
They're not looking to trade with regular people. Heck with them. They're good guys. They're the ones they want to eventually wipe out if they don't follow Asmodeus. They want to trade with various bandits and other people who are looking to bring down the continent. For them to be branded, they feel it gives them the edge. They escaped. They're badass. You should follow us and buy from us regularly because when this place goes down, you'll want to be on our side. As for guards, if I send too many, they'll call "foul" for railroading them.

I don't know. I'll probably have to play it by ear. I'm not exactly what you'd call a seasoned DM.


Spoiler:
Alternatively, have Thorn work against them. He's ambitious, he doesn't want someone stealing his thunder, and he has eight other knots who work for him. They get asked nicely once. Then they are on their own.


4 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber
kevin_video wrote:

** spoiler omitted **

I don't know. I'll probably have to play it by ear. I'm not exactly what you'd call a seasoned DM.

Your PCs are assuming...

Spoiler:
...quite a lot. For one thing, after they break out, people are going to be checking for brands everywhere. Your PCs will be expected to show their arms to prove that they're not branded every time they interact with pretty much anyone. Failing to do so will quickly bring the populace down on their heads.

Likewise, if they want to pillage an area more than once, they're going to find that there's a quick build-up of military forces in the area preparing for them. If they think they can raid an area six times, or even three, by the second or third time they should be encountering stiff resistance.

They're also presuming a lot if they think that they can just amass a small fortune by robbing villages. There's no local equivalent of a bank for them to rob, plus there are issues of carrying their stolen loot.

Their plan to set up as traveling performers and a hellfire preacher is, in all honesty, going to bite them hard. For one thing, they'll be checked for brands even going in, not to mention all the time while they're in the city.

A sermonizing cleric will quickly draw down local wrath if he's not preaching the way of Mitra. Likewise, since fireball and similar spells (mostly) tend to follow a traceable route (e.g. a fireball shoots a pea-sized ball before it explodes, so its arc can be tracked) people won't be fooled into thinking that it's gods-sent hellfire. And picking pockets in a fleeing crowd is likely to be difficult, earn little, and still be subject to notice (that is, the people they're pick-pocketing still get Perception checks).

Needless to say, this will very quickly bring down Mitra's followers on their heads in force. They'll earn a nation's wrath a lot faster than they'll earn the capital necessary to start their own black market.

Likewise, their plan to start a black market sounds like a pipe-dream. While there are clearly non-good people still around, they don't have the organization necessary to form an underground market - if there were such a large contingent of bad people, they'd have to be operating in a major city, which will have a much larger force of good-aligned defenders.

Simply put, your PCs' plans sounds like they aren't taking into account that there's a very expansive and not-unintelligent force of goodness just waiting to spring on overt acts of evil...and your PCs' plan is the very definition of overt.

My personal advice (which I know you didn't ask for, but I wanted to offer regardless) if that you let them reap the results of their actions. This isn't you being a killer DM - it's a society protecting itself from a group that seems to think that the people they attack won't take measures to defend themselves from future predations. If they're lucky, they can catch a settlement unaware once; after that, they're likely heading for a meat-grinder.

And it'll be entirely their own fault.

Qadira

Alzrius wrote:


Your PCs are assuming...

** spoiler omitted **...

With regards to the fire spells, there's a spell that lets you stare at your opponent, and they catch on fire. That's what would be used regularly.


2 people marked this as a favorite.
kevin_video wrote:
Tobias wrote:

Well,

** spoiler omitted **

** spoiler omitted **

I don't know. I'll probably have to play it by ear. I'm not exactly what you'd call a seasoned DM.

There are a few issues with their plans. First, they're assuming that anyone who is a bandit is willing to work or trade with them. That's far from a foregone conclusion.

Second:

Spoiler:
They will draw the entire church of Mitra down on their heads the moment they start to proselytize for Asmodeus. Remember, the entire nation believes that Asmodeus drove a king insane and won't respond well to being threatened.

So why wouldn't the church go after them with the heavy hitters if they suddenly see such a blatant resurgence of Asmodeus worship, one that is actively trying to force people to follow them. After their first event they'll not only have people after them for escaping prison, but also for trying to restore a banned cult to the Prince of Darkness. Not subtle, not smart.

Playing it by ear is fine. Just make sure they get the logical consequences of their actions. In a place like Talingarde, the logical response of the audience to seeing someone burst into flame isn't going to be "we must worship Asmodeus or die", but "we need to call on Mitra and his faithful to save us from these devil worshipers!"

Part of Thorn's plan involves crippling Mitra's church's ability to help in the midst of the plague, which shows that Mitra cannot protect the people. That's necessary to ensure that there are conversions when the time is right. Asmodeus would shake his head in disgust at people who claim to be furthering his goals but then act like simple thugs with no understanding of the true politics at work.


Peanuts wrote:
If only they'd had a wheelbarrow, and a holocaust cloak!

Why didn't you list those among our assets in the first place?

Gary "Dread Pirate Roberts For Two Weeks Last Year" McBride
Fire Mountain Games


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Kevin,

You've got two choices in this situation.

Let the PCs plan work (which for reasons people have mentioned above -- does have some problems). In this case, you are largely writing a new campaign. And there is NOTHING wrong with this if this what you want to do. If you do, please post how the campaign progresses. I would love to hear it! I'm not being facetious. It sounds awesome. If you don't want to do this though, then you need to adopt option #2 which is...

Option #2 get them back on the path...

Spoiler:

When the PCs show up, have Cardinal Thorn already know their plan. Every detail. How does he know it? They planned it in Branderscar, right? Where do you think Thorn's invisible imp servitor was hanging out? He knows the whole plan. Have him savage it. Have him tell them the dozen places it won't work. And then have him tell them this:

But for all this foolery, I see within each of you the metal I need. You want to destroy Talingarde. You want it with every fiber of your being, every part of your soul. You crave revenge like most need to breathe. I give you a choice, my friends. Embark upon this fools errand, which not only I have already discovered, but likely also your enemies or ... join with me. I will take the raw metal of your hate and forge you into the weapon of hell. Together we will cut Talingarde's throat.

Regardless, don't worry too much about being a "seasoned DM". This isn't rocket science. This is a game and hopefully, what we can acheive together is a few hours of kick-ass adventure a few times a month.

And that is what makes this hobby so grand.

Hope that helps,
Gary McBride
Fire Mountain Games

Qadira

Thank you everyone who commented. I'll take what was said under advisement.

Cheliax

I am looking for some advice/ details of others experience with the first installment of the Way of the Wicked adventure path. So far, it seems that the encounters are too tough for the party that I am putting through and I want to know if I am doing something wrong, my players are doing something wrong or it is some combination of this or something I am missing. While I am not going to post the all the details of the characters, please note that there might be spoiler alert for people who haven't played the section.

Spoiler:

The Party was 2nd level. They were up against the fighter in the dungeon below the manor house. They had made a lot of noise because of the shreiker, and alerted him. Of course he can't leave, but if figured that he will try to be prepared in case anyone comes along so he gets on his armor and readies himself . After about 2 hours, nothing happens so he takes off his armor and goes back to biding his time. A few hours later, he hears someone in the room with the coffins. The noise stops, but he decides to get ready.

Meanwhile the alchemist returns to he party after sleeping (they slept in the shrieker room, he slept in the coffin room, he thought that it was cool for a reanimator alchemist to do that), but never made any effort to be quiet. 1 closed door, person walking 30 ft away (DC 18; I rolled a 20 on Sir Balin's perception)) I decided that there was a 33% chance of the fighter being asleep- he wasn't. So by the time the party comes down the corridor about 10 minutes later, the fighter has his armor on and is possibly expecting trouble.

The part consists of 4 2nd level characters; a barbarian, a reanimator alchemist, an anti-paladin and a zen archery monk (whose player was absent that session). They go and open the door using the key and find him in the cell ready and waiting.

They talk to him a bit and find him to be uncooperative and demanding/ insulting with he sees his squire being dragged unconscious behind the party. the inevitable combat starts.
With power attack, cleave and an attack of +11 (+9 with power attack) and AC of 22 (22 with cleave), the fighter mowed through the Alchemist AC 17 HP 13 and got cleaved because he was standing next to the barbarian a perfect set up for cleave. The Monk AC 19 HP 13 was slammed by a AoO crit as she tried to tumble to get in a position to shoot him with her bow (which she shouldn't have done, but I was running her as an NPC and didn't really know what to do with her and thought that she could be the CMD of 20 with her acrobatics (+9) my error 100%). The anti-paladin AC 15 and 23 HP lasted 2 rounds. The barbarian AC 14 (due to rage) and HP 31 barely killed the fighter being left with only a few HP after his rage wore off.
Is it me, or does the math seem a bit hard for the level of characters. The fighter had a between a 80 to 50% chance to hit each of the characters. The best armor they had were chain shirts (no one thought to ask Taidora for a breastplate or chain mail), and could one shot 1/2 the party and pretty much take down the barbarian and the anti-paladin in one 2 or 3 hits (1d8+7+4 + power attack. Should I just have decided against the power attack? The best AC in the party is 19 for the monk, the worst is the barbarian. Is this encounter too tough? Has anyone else had a problem with this fight? I figured that the power attack would reduce his chance to hit, even if it did KO a player. Bad decision?. The encounter with the vampiric mist didn't go so well for the barbarian (he lost 10 CON fighting the thing). not quite 2 TPK, but the players certainly didn't like it.


Dreadwaldo,

First, thanks for supporting "Way of the Wicked".

Second...

Spoiler:

It does sound to me like Sir Balin is a little too tough for your party. It is as a game designer, impossible to balance encounters against every possible power level of party. They simply vary too much. What is a cakewalk for one optimized 2nd level party can be, obviously, a TPK for another. Having failed to get better gear from Tiadora, it sounds like your group of players was a little "underpowered".

My advice, it sounds like your party barely completed the nine lessons. As part of their training, also have Thorn equip them better. Give them each the gear they need (without having to ask) and maybe even hand out to each PC a minor magic item -- +1 breastplate, amulet of natural armor, that sort of thing.

That should get the party's AC up a bit and make them feel like they are now ready to take on the world.

You don't want the adventure to be too easy. It should not be a trivial thing to walk the Way of the Wicked. But on the other hand narrowly avoiding TPK after TPK is tiresome as well.

Know your party. Know their expectations and power level. Feel free to adjust the adversaries a little to make fights challenging but not overwhelming.

Hope that helps,
Gary McBride
Fire Mountain Games


Kevin_video,

And do take a moment to keep us up to date. I love hearing about campaigns and their progress.

Gary McBride
Fire Mountain Games

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Card Game Subscriber
Dreadwaldo wrote:

The Party was 2nd level. They were up against the fighter in the dungeon below the manor house. They had made a lot of noise because of the shreiker, and alerted him. Of course he can't leave, but if figured that he will try to be prepared in case anyone comes along so he gets on his armor and readies himself . After about 2 hours, nothing happens so he takes off his armor and goes back to biding his time. A few hours later, he hears someone in the room with the coffins. The noise stops, but he decides to get ready.

Spoiler:
That is a tough encounter. My own group (at the time it was human cleric, halfling rogue, elf zen archer monk, human four winds monk, human antipaladin) almost bought it as well. Round 1 the group moved into position, while the fighter took an attack and rolled a 2. Round 2, the fighter (who had rolled high on initiative) cleaved and dropped 2 party members out. From that point the group was starting to freak abit, but they had managed a couple solid hits already. At the end of round 2, the monk tried a trip attack...and Nat 20'd it. Between the attacks on him while prone, the AoOs from him standing and the hits from before, they managed to get him down, but it was close.
Cheliax

okay, we're close to finishing Rise of the Runelords and I offered this to my players. I've never seen them so excited about a new campaign. For a minute they were considering doing a Leroy Jenkins versus Karzoug so they'd win quick or die young and either way start this campaign ASAP.

In the meantime however, my players came up with some great tips, could be useful for other parties playing this.

suitable character roles and goals for an evil party
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/FiveBadBand

how a lawful evil character views the world
http://easydamus.com/lawfulevil.html

how your alignment affects your behavior
http://easydamus.com/alignandint.html

evil examples nay role models
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/LawfulEvil

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