Way of the Wicked—Book #3: Tears of the Blessed (PFRPG) PDF

****½ (based on 7 ratings)

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Lead an Army of Darkness into Battle!

Inside the Vale of Valtaerna is found the most sacred site to the benevolent god Mitra in all of Talingarde. From this holy site, your enemies draw power and comfort. This is the story of how you raised an army of wickedness and stormed that stronghold of light slaughtering all who stood in your way!

No longer are you a petty servant of darkness. Here is your chance to become a master of evil. But beware! This will not be easy. There are more than just priests in the vale. This is the lair of countless good celestials who will do all in their power to stop your rise. Can you defeat them? Will you be destroyed or will you emerge triumphant amidst the tears of the blessed?

Welcome to the third chapter of the “Way of the Wicked”—the only evil adventure path for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game!

Inside you’ll find:

  • “Tears of the Blessed,” an adventure compatible with the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game for 10th-level villains by Gary McBride
  • Full color art and maps by Michael Clarke
  • A gazetteer of the city of Ghastenhall
  • Detailed information about the Church of Mitra, your most determined foes.
  • All you need to run a vicious narrative battle with your PCs in command.
  • 102 pages of full color!
  • And More!

Raise your army, dark lord, and march to war. There will be no one to stop you this time!

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****½ (based on 7 ratings)

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Clerics, Angels and Phoenix, oh my

*****

Your horrid villains are tasked with sacking a wintered-in valley of nauseatingly Lawful Good types. Recruit foot soldiers, bust the gate open and sack the place!

This chapter continues to demonstrate the villainous virtues of infiltration, sabotage, skulduggery and raw Evil firepower. The big nasties are all challenging icons of Things that are Good. Some groups will mop the floor with their foes, others will have a more difficult time.

As is the established pattern in earlier chapters, the villains can nova some encounters while carefully husbanding resources in other parts.

Plan carefully Ladies and Lords for failure to pay attention may send your damned souls to Hell far earlier than you wish...


Tears of the Blessed Review

****( )

Warning: Potential spoilers. Written from a GM's perspective. I ran this for 6 PCs.

In the third installment of the Way of the Wicked, the players are given the task of recruiting and army to sack the holy city of Valtaerna. Having played through this book, I must continue to give my compliments to creators. The world and the story is still holding the players attention and offering them creative ways to play their dark lords.

A particularly excellent part of this book was the appropriately epic Battle for Valtaerna. While this long fight spanned at least two full sessions and used almost every resource the party had, it never became tedious or felt like the players were just going through the motions.

However, if I had a criticism of this chapter of Way of the Wicked, it would be that the excitement is a little bit frontloaded. The Big Battle, while excellent, happens fairly early in the book. There is also the matter of a the Phoenix, who is fought relatively early in the book, but is actually a far more dangerous and memorable than the final boss.

Two words of caution to GM planning to run Tears of the Blessed:
1. Be careful with the Phoenix. My players were not well prepared heading in to that fight. Thankfully they had Protection From Energy or we may have had a TPK. However, our party mage had too few non-fire spells and the martial characters didn't have a way of getting through the Phoenix's DR 15/Evil. With the Phoenix's healing capabilities, the fight ended up being a slog where they could barely do more damage than the Phoenix could heal in a round.
2. Be careful with Holy Word. While, most encounters in the latter half of the book have access to this devastating spell, I highly suggest limiting your usage of it. This is a really powerful spell, that does a great job incapacitating players and making the encounter feel dangerous. Unfortunately, when you are a player, being incapacitated isn't very fun. Not only will your players hate it, but they will actively prepare ways to counter it. Considering that Holy Word is probably the best tactic of an otherwise rather weak final boss, you really don't want to wear it out.

However, minor complaints and warnings aside, I would still highly recommend this book. It runs far quicker and easier than Call Forth Darkness and maintains the series excellent quality in story and characters.


*****

I've reviewed this on RPGGeek.com.

You can read it here.


***( )( )

Tears of the Blessed is a very cool concept module with a lot of neat flavor. The book itself is written with style and the general outline of the adventure itself is very promising. Here's my review:

1. Mechanics
While the fluff and circumstance in the module is fantastic at times (and drudging at others) it suffers from a lot of fidgety mechanics issues that belie a fair bit of annoyance.
A lot of the stat blocks in Way of the Wicked are streamlined. These are made for best use, which is, in thought, very kind, but in practice for the experienced DM very agitating. Baking power attack into most enemies attack rolls seems smart until they're also baking abilities in as well, making unraveling bonuses difficult. Some creatures have deflection against evil opponents in their stat blocks, making their CMD and AC jump up from what's written down. If you have a neutral character in the party, they're very powerful in this module.
Many opponents are not as dangerous as their CR entails. This leads to a kind of boredom syndrome-- a lot of battles are versus foes who, in writing, are CR 10, but in longevity are not-- AC tends to teeter around 20, and attack rolls around +13. Many battles are the opposite-- the creatures aren't very dangerous, but are extremely long-lived. Later on in the Vale itself, DR 5-15/evil is on every single monster you encounter until you begin to encounter incorporeal foes. From the middle of the Battle of Saintsbridge, almost every single foe you face has spell resistance. That is immensely painful. Many encounters are able to cast holy word, which is very punishing to melee. Many encounters are layered in personal or group protection from evil effects, making almost all mind-affecting abilities wasted. Protective aura is unbelievably irritating. Many encounters are slogs that the NPCs can never be victorious in, making the entire conflict unnecessary. A lot of encounters are just soldiers, or later, angelic soldiers, throwing themselves at you to die with little fanfare. Not a lot of encounters enhance the mood-- they just serve as filler.
The humdrum is broken up by several lynchpin encounters that are both exciting, interesting and incredibly iconic. Suchandra the Phoenix is an extremely worthy foe, as is The-Flame-That-Sings. Ara Mathra and She-Forever-Silent are intimidating, as are Taranea and the ghostly paladins (though three encounters of three is far too much in my opinion). These encounters are not only interesting, but some of the only encounters that are plot-worthy (see below).
As a warning, The-Flame-That-Sings is a full-on TPK encounter if your group does not have protection from energy and resist energy. By the time the group killed The-Flame and Suchandra got busy, everyone but the wizard was out of their 120 fire absorption and almost all of them but the monk and bard were on fire. In an adventure that is all-but guaranteed to have an evil-aligned cleric, this can be very devastating.

2. Impetus
In this book, the PCs finish their quest from the last adventure and then are thrust into the next. This has the same kind of problem as the first two books: Cardinal Thorn says jump, so you jump, get tortured and jump minus a stat point, or the book permanently kills you. Not a lot of illusion of choice. You must meet with Sakkarot, that scenario is successful if the PCs try at all, you must go into the Vale, you must douse the three flames, you must kill everyone there, you must slay Ara Mathra. The PCs wants or character motivations don't come into it. There aren't any compelling characters to want to work for, like in other modules (unless you're still riding on the fumes of Thorn from book 1) or people who need saving. It's the opposite-- your character sees there are people who need killing and goes to kill them for the sake of killing. There's no characters to really hate or want to kill, either. Unlike the other books, evil doesn't turn on evil, nor is good annoying, self-righteous or antagonistic. It makes the module extremely bleak. You go around killing great people who don't deserve it and who can't fight back... for fun.

3. Plot
The plot is that the PCs go to a place that is good and nice, kill everyone there and then kill the angels there because their boss said so. There's really nothing beyond that besides plot seeds for the next books. An interesting character is introduced-- Dessiter-- and then disappears. None of the antagonists are really fleshed out beyond the room they're in, and thusly feel very flat. Many, despite there being a huge amount of reasons for them to, do not leave their encounter rooms. My favorite is Taranea-- a CG azata-- who follows orders to not intervene in the Battle of Saintsbridge until the PCs are (presumably) high enough level to fight her. An elementally chaotic creature and elementally good creature not only follows orders but lets people die because of them.
You spend almost the entire module knowing about Ara Mathra but he never interacts with the party-- not even a word from the sky, a showing, an angry prophecy. Strangely, the party is on a timer-- the leader of the Vale is summoning an army of ghostly paladins to fight the PCs-- but the PCs don't know it, so they kind of lackidaisically take their time through the module without much urgency.

Still not liking some of the organization, and definitely disliking many parts-- To enter 2-9, you must go through 2-9a, which is detailed after the contents of 2-9-- a half-page of exposition. Stat blocks still break the page. Maps are square with almost no exception, making drawing them uninspiring.

3 stars simply for the concept alone, though the execution was lacking. This module is, despite everything I just said, still worth a read. Really don't miss it-- it has some of the coolest ideas, scenarios, areas, monsters and concepts in it, surrounded by a lot of hit-or-miss basic D&D setpieces (mass combat) that the module could have abandoned without losing anything.


And the Heavens will weep

*****

This one will have to be short. Suffice to say that in this one, after your villains got the Tears of Achlys at the climax of the last adventure, they first get some downtime (and plenty of side quests to get into trouble and grab some loot), and then they get their next assignment. Simply stated, destroy the most sacred and well-protected temple in the kingdom and defile it past any use. Oh, and no survivors.

You get all the easy jobs.

Anyway, there's considerable role-playing in here as you recruit allies, some of them characters you met before. You'll also meet a devil who's taken a close interest in your careers, which can lead to even further trouble. Not to mention enough battle and mayhem to satisfy the most bloody-minded player as you smash your way into the Vale of Valtaerna, going through everything from warriors to fanatic good clerics to celestials until you (hopefully) achieve victory. And after that you'll find yourself dealing with some very powerful good beings in the Vale -- you'll need sharp wits as well as ready blades to deal with them unless you want to be overwhelmed.

And then the REAL difficulty begins when you enter the Temple of Saint Macarius, deal with the opposition you find there, maybe find some very useful treasures, and finally confront the true master of the temple and leader of your foes. And you WILL need to be both fortunate AND tough to beat Ara Mathra!

It's rounded out with a Gazetteer of the city of Ghastenhall as well as a guide to the religion of Mitra, the Triune God, that should be very helpful for DMs (and maybe players in a more conventional campaign).

There are a few typos here and there, but this is every bit as amazing as the prior adventures in the series. Five stars!


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Pnakotus Detsujin wrote:
Gibblewret_Tosscobble wrote:

Does not need to change if you think it's a fair fight. I was going probably add 1 more Roc.

If i may suggest, if your group could have problems with weather sheninegans, I would switch Antheus and his rocs with a Sun Giant (CR 16) followed by murder of hippogryphs.

You should invent something to allow such enemy to fly, but i would avoid putting more giant birds because:
1) It reduces, to me, the narrative impact of the phoenix and of the stormborn king of book 4.
2) If you play weather in favour of the rocks, it becomes extremely tedious to fight something gigantic that can easily grapple you while you must roll to even walk straight.
3) A Sun giant, possibly buffed with more templates likes classe templates or the good old half celestial, becomes more of a solo, brutal boss fight which can also allow your characters's minions a chance to do something useful outside of the two endgame dungeons.

Re #2:

Weather in favor of the good guys is absolutely a Thing. The Bad Guys (PCs) have months to plan their soire into the valley. They're also, what, 11th level going into the place? They have impressive - but not yet phenomenal - cosmic power available to them. This is a place where they get to use it and sicc an army on the Good Guys.

Having rocs plowing through the storm giant's windstorm absolutely should be a Thing. The Bad Guys have had access (barring some really weird 'builds') to freedom of movement and cloak of winds for 5+ levels by this point. If they don't think to prepare for being grappled by called celestial grapple-monsters ... well, they'll learn in a hurry and may have to beat a hasty retreat.

Grand Lodge

If you're looking to "upgrade" the encounters, adding Aerial Creature or Thunder Child wouldn't necessarily be a bad plan. As for the rocs, give them the Divine mythic template and make sure one of their spells if freedom of movement. It's the small things that add up to make an encounter more challenging for the bad guys.


Taking a moment to step back to more of the beginning stages of the book now the Battle of Saints Bridge I've been reading this chapter over and over again and trying to understand exactly how the chain of events begins because it seems like you send people in to deal with the low-level troops which would be the holy Warriors and such first when you have the golems and you have the creatures on top.

However is this the start of the battle of Thames Bridge in which they have to move forward towards sanctum and then you start going through each battle scenario? Maybe it's just me and I'm having a hard time standing why wouldn't sound the gong as soon as they felt a large presence of evil.

How exactly are all the other battles alerted to the fact that you're evil players are making their way to the sanctum or is this just the standard formation for all of those different scenarios Example The Archers are always in place in some sort of General spot ready to attack evil the archons are always at the bridge the dwarves are ready to fight and so on.

did all of these different scenarios gift started because of what was going on in book 2?


Gibblewret_Tosscobble wrote:
Taking a moment to step back to more of the beginning stages of the book now the Battle of Saints Bridge I've been reading this chapter over and over again and trying to understand exactly how the chain of events begins

I believe you should view this encounters as events on the battlefield.

Truth is, an army of bugbears cannot take the valley alone, but sure could overcome the first few troops, getting nevertheless chocked by the mitrans at one of the bridges. Sanctum cannot bear a siege, therefore the mitrans tactic is to stop the army at one of this chokeholds.

You should present such encounters as situation which emerge in the middle of the battle, giving your players the option of regroup and "deal with them" personally or, at least, send a cohort with reinforcements.

If your players can predict what the mitrans may do, you should allow them to target - either by long range effects or by sneaking on them in the cover of the night - a few of these land-based groups while they are still rushing towards their own positions. You should however leave the last 2 events play out as written since the charge of the aasimar flying paladins and the priests of Mitra is the last stand of the city.


My picture of the arena I added misc broken/improvised/gladiator weapons


So I am considering just for fun, since that is what the arena really is about, in the 4th week allowing the firbolg barbarian who is the contestent to be allowed to use all his magical equipment and weapons lol, but have to take on all three beasts at the same time.


Dooo eeeet!

The Exchange RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32

Well, that was fun!

My party solve the last riddle and arrive at the Flame. Sambethe introduces herself and the Master, and gives the party the chance to leave. Needless to say, they decline, and the Master gestures to the party monk to come forward. (À la Morpheus in The Matrix, one hand beckoning). He then avoids every attack, drops the monk and kicks him several times while he's down. Cue silence at the table :D

Sambethe drops a blade barrier right down the middle of the party, slicing up 6 skeletons and hurting the rest of the party and their undead mini-horde. the party Cleric opens an Infernal Crevasse stretching around the front of the Flame, and tentacles flop around Sambethe's ankles before grabbing her tightly.

The Master spring attacks the Cleric and bounds back to the Flame. Unfortunately he fluffs his attack, but it was close. Undead crocodiles, all the way from Book 2, charge the Master and get kicked into bone dust. The vampire Hexblade can't touch the master but manages to avoid being tripped or repositioned.

Sambethe can't get free (darned gammy leg) and doesn't think she'll get a summon off with the pain of the tentacles disturbing her concentration. Instead she Flame Strikes the party, hoping to finish off the wounded before dispelling next round. Bad luck, they hang in there (thanks to some quickened channeling last round), and start causing more trouble.

The Cleric casts anti-life shell and laughs as the Master leaps over the crevasse to jump-kick him in the face and bounces off the ward. The vampire grabs the Master when he lands, sucks a few levels and grapples him. Sambethe can't get to the Master and doesn't trust a dispel - she uses another blade barrier instead, killing some undead but still no party members!

The necromancer''s spectral hand drops an enervation on the Master and the vampire pins him and takes two more levels. He's now down 8 levels. Sambethe pulls out a Holy Word (a bit late) before two quickened channels and the tentacles kill her. The vampire keeps his headlock on the Master and finishes him off too.

Ouch.

The Exchange RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32

After hiding out and resting the party crept out of their hideyhole to see two rocs circling. They come out and are promptly hit by a chain lightning from an invisible Storm Giant. Two swooping rocs miss with every. Single. Claw.

"How can little runts like you cause so much dama...GACK! KOFF! KOFF!"

Anteus gets a personal acid fog around his head and shoulders, and while he can still move he can't see his feet. Which is where the necromancer and vampire are...

In a few seconds he is hit with a greater hexblade's curse (-4 to lots of stuff) and drained two levels.
The cleric then tags him with a feeblemind which works. He is at INT 1.
The necromancer tags him with a nasty brain fever, doing 4 more INT damage.
Anteus drops unconscious out of the acid fog thanks to his freedom of movement.

Asmodeus hasn't even started to whisper "Give him to meeeee" at this point.


Nice! Always cool to hear how people are running their version of the path and what different players come up with.


Awesome as always, carborundum!

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