Way of the Wicked—Book #5: The Devil My Only Master (PFRPG) PDF

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For years you have been a follower in a sinister conspiracy dedicated to burning the noble nation of Talingarde to the ground. For years you have accepted their missions and done as you were told. For years you have been a MINION.

That changes today. Today you seize your destiny. Today you will destroy those who think themselves above you. Today you will become the dark lord you were always destined to be. And then all of Talingarde will tremble in your wake.

Welcome to the fifth chapter of the critically acclaimed, ENnie-award nominated “Way of the Wicked” adventure path!

Inside you’ll find:

  • “The Devil My Only Master,” an adventure compatible with the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game designed for 16th-level villains by Gary McBride
  • Full color illustrations and maps by Michael Clarke
  • New character options for villains by Jason Bulmahn
  • How to play vampire and lich PCs
  • And More!
  • Hunt a linnorm! Corrupt a paladin! Slay your master and become Talingarde’s greatest villains!

    No one but the devil guides you now.

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***** (based on 4 ratings)

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Carpe Diem, Dark Lords!

*****

Seize destiny with both hands and throttle it for what is rightfully yours!

At least you overthrow both the Infernal Pact you signed in Chapter 1 and the mewling sun-worshiping peons of Talingarde. A vast island awaits the tread of your hobnailed boots. Give them nothing, take from them everything.

The material about lichdom and vampirism in Pathfinder - and ways to "pay" for both without throwing things completely out of kilter are well done herein. With retraining rules from Ultimate Campaign your fiends can pay the price and even improve upon them at the cost of precious general feats. I recommend using them to base how one addresses such concerns in other sandbox campaigns. I wish I'd had this information when running my CoT/KM mash-up campaign. Well done!


The Devil My Only Master Review

*****

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

Just a quick read of the summary for this book makes it clear that this is a pivotal chapter in the adventure path. The last four books have been building up to an inevitable confrontation between Cardinal Thorn and the PCs, regarding who will ultimately rule Talingarde. Much like it's predecessors, The Devil My Only Master does not disappoint.

Strengths:
The fear of any GM running a 16th level campaign is that your PCs are going to either steamroll every encounter you send their way or get brutally murdered themselves. I was pleasantly surprised at the challenge level of the encounters in this book. While the PCs did have a few easy wins, they also faced their fair share of challenges and near death scenarios. Havelyn and his crew turned out to be particularly deadly. Of course, I must mention that there is an encounter with the wraiths and the banshees, which even the writers acknowledge was not a well balanced r. However, my PCs managed to bypass this encounter entirely, so it was not a problem for our game.

The entire campaign has had excellent worldbuilding and character development. The writers definitely played the long game, with early introductions of characters like Tiadora, Dessiter and Richard Havelyn, as well as setting up Cardinal Thorn as a powerful entity. In this book, those choices really start to pay off. Existing knowledge of their adversaries helped to make the encounters much more personal and interesting. This book was also to fill in a lot of gaps for the players, as they are finally able to see Thorn's plan in its entirety.

There are also a few really great RP opportunities in this book. The scene with Dessiter and Nabarus was wonderfully fun to act out. The opportunity to make Richard Havelyn fall made for a very interesting encounter, where the PCs were able to play mind games with him as they were fighting. Of course, finally getting a shot at Cardinal Thorn also made for interesting RP.

Weaknesses:
There was only one real issue I had running this campaign, and it could very well be a unique problem to my table. The writers make the assumption that the players will not start trying to run the Knot of Thorns until Book 6, after Thorn is already dead. My player were a little over ambitious and essentially considered themselves the new leaders of the knot as soon as the party inquisitor was granted the title of high cardinal. This lead to some awkwardness, since there isn't much in the way of guidance as to how Thorn's various followers react to recruitment attempts while Thorn is still alive. Improvising with what I knew about the NPCs, they were able to recruit Cedrick Malthus early, they managed ruin any chance at a positive relationship with Barnabus Thrane and reached a tenuous agreement with Sakkarot, that he would remain faithful to whichever side emerged victorious. However, it might have been helpful to have a short blurb addressing this issue, since weakening Thorn's network was a pretty reasonable approach for them to take.

There is an appendix at the end of the book with special rules for handling undead players. I was not particularly impressed with these special rules. The rules for the vampire seemed overly convoluted and roundabout to obtain. For my game, I instead used a house rule where our vampire PC gained the vampiric abilities over the course of two levels, in place of those two levels. As for the lich rules, outside of the initial time and gold expenditure, it doesn't seem like there was anything that would make the PC balanced with the rest of the party.

However, since the first complaint is a very small oversight that won't be noticed by a lot of tables and the second is related to supplemental material that is easily ignored, I do not deem either complaint enough to knock a star off the rating.

General Advice:
The biggest advice I can give is to not be afraid to get a little wicked with Thorn. His strategy section explains that he knows the PCs abilities intimately and that you should adjust his tactics and his spells to account for this. If you just try to use Thorn's generic stat block, I promise you he will not end up being the formidable force that he was built up to be for the last five books. Windwall, Anti-Life Shell, Spell Immunity and Protection From Energy (Fire) were all highly useful for keeping my party at bay. I would also recommend going beyond the changes recommended in the strategy block. He has many spells that have 10 minute/level duration and even his 1 min/level buff last 18 minutes. Don't waste time casting these buffs during Time Stop. He knows when the players arrive at the Agathium, so cast there is no reason for him not to be prepared. Also, don't be afraid to play around with his equipment. Essentially, he is sold as the biggest threat your villains have faced yet. Don't be afraid to make him live up to it.


4.5 stars + seal for the turning point of the campaign

****( )

The fifth installment of Fire Mountain Games' critically acclaimed evil adventure path is 100 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page advertisement, 2 pages of maps of Talingarde (as in each WotW-book) and 1 page back cover, leaving us with a total of 92 pages of content, so let's check this out!

This is a review of the module, so potential players should jump to the conclusion to avoid the vast array of SPOILERS that follow.

All right, still here?

If the module's name has not been ample clue for you, this is the turning point of the campaign: For 4 modules, the villains have been the pawns of Cardinal Adrastus Thorn in his conspiracy to bring down Taligarde. The lich's paranoia has made him turn against the PCs and he will pay, for Asmodeus does not tolerate weakness like the undead's sparing of a paladin. In order to become second to none but the devil, though, the PCs first have to survive and not be suckered in by Thorn's "invitation" to his stronghold: Forewarned, the PCs first act in this module is the necessity to say "no" to Tiadora and her devilish erinyes - something that will result in a rather deadly combat. The first part of the adventure is rather modular and has the PCs plan their usurpation of Thorn's throne while trying to survive his endeavors in ending them. In order to gain Asmodeus favor, they will have to tie up lose ends: If Brigit of the Brijidine still is alive, they will have to eliminate her for Dessiter the contract devil.

Upon completion of this rather deadly task (Brigit's home is no laughing stock), they may have an audience with Naburus, a pit devil and lord of hell! Said devil may use a clever loop-hole in the contract that binds them to Thorn to extract them from his influence as well as potentially making one of them high-priest of Asmodeus! In the meanwhile, Thorn seeks to eliminate them by sending his hamatulan host for them and there are further loose ends that seek to be tied up: Depending on their actions in book 2, the PCs will have to contend and survive Vetra-Kali-Eats-the-Eyes and his retinue and finally get a grand chance:

Their nemesis Richard Thomasson, the paladin that single-handedly almost made their plans fail, the fool that melted Thorns heart out of sentimentality for a love now lost, walks the island of Chargammon. In order to please the lord of the 9th, the PCs must prove themselves, find the paladin, defeat his massive retinue and once and for all put a stop to his meddling. Better yet, for true masters of the dark - the PCs may actually drag the shining knight down, causing him to fall and swear allegiance to Asmodeus!

Of course, in order to defeat a lich, the PCs will have to get a hold of his phylactery and he has hidden it well - in the cave of dread Nythoggr, a cairn linnorm and foe that surpasses even the power of great Chargammon! Worse, the caves of the cairn linnorm are also the home of mad undead spirits like banshees and Ice Elf Dread Wraiths, making the infiltration/crawl a deadly challenge indeed. better yet, the options to infiltrate/use other means of acquiring the phylactery, including smart usage of the potentially existing draconic cohort are all taken into account: After all, who wants to incur the deadly death curse of the linnorm? If they do walk the path of brute force instead of cleverness and ingenuity, the PCs thankfully can escape the very deadly curse via a nearby artifact, but only if they are smart and know how and where to look...

When the next devilish assassin manages to wiggle out of Thorn's command upon him realizing they have his phylactery and instead proposes serving the PCs instead, it should be clear that Thorn's days are few. Only one thing remains for the future masters of Talingarde to do - teleport to the Agathium and stomp out their former mentor. Barricaded in the vast fortress depicted on the cover (which would imho make for a kick-ass metal cd-cover), the lich's paranoia grows, ever increasing. Guarded by armies of rejuvenating undead, the trek to the place could have been awesome, but honestly, it is here the module has its weakest spot: The unforgiving arctic wilderness sounds so awesome, why not have the PCs experience it and slug through Thorn's defenses? Magical Aurora Borealis, the artifact-engine, whatever - there are many good reasons for not opting for the teleport-option. Oh well.

The exploration of the Agathium is exciting - between Thorn playing tricks and using psychological warfare, his defenders are nothing to be scoffed at: From a Frost-Giant jarl (whose bride may become an ally of the villains) to Thorn's own hermit necromancer/crafter (who, again, may become an ally), the challenges awaiting the PCs are numerous - but so are the rewards: The PCs can e.g. make sacrifices to Asmodeus' most unholy altar (detailed with a drop-dead-gorgeous artwork), take control of the arcane engine that facilitates crafting and undead creation via negative energy and, of course, loot Thorn's treasury, which among other things includes Tiadora's true name, making her another potential servant. Speaking of servants: The traitor-general of Talingarde currently also languishes in the Agathium - a nice and convenient way for the PCs to mop up his particular loose end and put a stop to this pompous fop's meddling.

However, not all have turned against Thorn: His fortress is still secured by his own considerable magical might, units of grave knights and a particular nasty surprise: Apart from his fanatically loyal antipaladin champion Wolfram, he also has secured the aid or not one, but two undead dragons to annihilate the PCs - OUCH!

If the PCs manage to brave his false throne room ( a deadly trap indeed) and all his guardians, they will finally come to blows with their erstwhile master and, if they emerge triumphant, be graced with a rain of blood as well as the favor of Asmodeus himself, their only master!

After extensive troubleshooting, we are introduced to the second supplemental article for players who want to become undead: Vampires manage their transformation and the gradual power-gain (alongside vampiric weaknesses) via a progression of 5 feats, an apt payoff. Liches in contrast need only take one feat, but still have to pass the otherwise rather steep requirements for lichdom.
There also are 13 new feats for undead (including swarm-form, enhanced vampiric powers, a tad bit of resistance to sunlight etc.), 6 new magic items especially suitable for undead, 6 new spells (mostly designed to help them fit in with mortals, trap coffins etc.).

The final section of the book, guest-authored by Jason Bulmahn, introduces us to new archetypes: Monks may, as Hands of Tyranny, issue unholy commands (as per the spell) via their unarmed attacks, are particularly adept liars and may evoke crippling pain via a mere touch. Lords o Darkness are Asmodean paladins that gain enchanting options as cruelties and finally, inquisitors may opt to become Torture Masters, experts of extracting information from the helpless. The final new archetype, unfortunately, is the only one I'd truly consider good: The Unholy Barrister (cleric) has a special channeling: He can spend two channel attempts to heal all evil creatures with his negative energy, but only if they swear loyalty to Asmodeus. Now if that won't lead to some badass moments at the table... Furthermore, with so-called soulbound contracts, he may impart his spells to others, granting the class a second complex and extremely cool signature ability.

The final 2 pages are taken up by 9 new feats, which allow you to channel life-force of coup-de-grace'd foes, enhance your unholy spells, ignore pain, come out trumps in negotiations (e.g. planar ally) and also pacts: Pacts make it very hard for you to return from death, since your soul is sworn to hell, but on the basis of the first feat, we get ones that e.g. enhance your sneaking, your divine or arcane power etc.

The pdf also comes with an extra-pdf of key-and numberless maps and handouts that is 6 pages long and covers all locations visited in this module.

Conclusion:
Editing and formatting are very good, though, as the last two installments of WotW, not perfect - I noticed a couple of switched letters and similar typos, though less than in Book III and IV. Layout adheres to the stellar 2-column standard used in previous WotW-installments and is up to the highest demands. The artworks by Michael Clarke are, just like the original cartography, up to the highest standard as well. The pdf comes fully bookmarked, though honestly I would have preferred more bookmarks, especially in the first section of the module, which is very much modular. The pdf comes with aforementioned extra pdf of player maps and handouts as well as a more printer-friendly version.

Author Gary McBride does not disappoint in the fifth installment of WotW - the pay-off, should the PCs manage to brave the vast dangers, is rather satisfying and the change of pace regarding enemy-types as well as the amount of support/trouble-shooting for the DM remains commendable. While not as jarring as the climax of book 4 (about which I complained to no end), book 5 also has a minor weak spot: The fact that there is potential for an epic wilderness-section (something so far completely missing from the whole AP, mind you!) in an undead-infested northern clime. This idea is so cool, the defenses and narrative one could have crafted from the PCs slowly but surely clawing their ways towards the antagonist through his lands could have made for an epicness beyond belief. Instead, the teleport-in-angle, while more common, imho also remains the blander way.

That out of the way, the narrative is otherwise solid, the challenges worthy of the villain's level by now and the potential for the DM to play some nasty tricks with evil creatures is there, making this imho better than book 4.

However, where I ceased to be amazed was with the supplemental information: I never liked the first article on undead PCs and the rules for vampire and lich PCs in my opinion, while working, fall a bit flat: Libris Vampyr by Necromancers from The Northwest did it via a PrC that required an extremely cool ritual every level, driving home not only the gravitas of the transformation, but also its symbology, something absent from this particular tackling of the subject. The new archetypes, with one exception, also left me rather cold, as did the pact feats which imho could use a slight power boost - after all, usually feats have no associated drawbacks and these do.

I wouldn't complain about these, were it not for the distinct impression that their page-count would have been served better by an expansion of the module. That out of the way, let it be known that my complaining is still on the highest level and this is, once again, an excellent adventure. Though not a perfect one. My final verdict will hence remain at 4.5 stars, + seal of approval, but rounded down to 4 for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.


Evil turns against evil as your PCs seek to overthrow their earthly patron

*****

Adventurers of any stripe are independent types; that’s a truism that goes back to the beginning of gaming. Few are the adventurers who care to have someone telling them how to take the risks they take, let alone telling them where to go and what to do. This is doubly so for those characters who are evil in nature…and yet that’s exactly what the PCs of the Way of the Wicked adventure path have had to endure. Until now.

Now, in the penultimate adventure, The Devil My Only Master, the PCs finally throw off the shackles of their earthly patron and take control of the plot to conquer the nation of Talingarde. But their master is not willing to go quietly. Let’s take a look and see how the adventure plays out.

The adventure comes with three PDFs. The first is the adventure itself, the second is the printer-friendly version thereof, and the third is a set of player handouts. Let’s look at these in reverse order. The player handouts largely consists of the adventure maps with the various keys and descriptors removed, which is a good thing to have; only one is an actual handout for the players to peruse. I had mixed feelings about these only being available in full color, as you’re most likely going to want to print these out – still, there aren’t that many (a grand total of six single-page items), so it shouldn’t be too difficult.

The critique about color artwork follows us to the printer-friendly version of the adventure. The printer-friendly version of the adventure has the same layout and artwork as the full-color version; what’s changed is that the page backgrounds (a parchment-color tan) and borders (a mixture of black and deep grey) are removed, with the borders being denoted only in grayscale lines. All of the other artwork and maps are present, color included.

I’ve mentioned before that I can understand leaving the artwork and illustrations in a printer-friendly PDF, as removing them requires redoing the layout. However, I’m less sympathetic to not finding a way to set the artwork to black-and-white at the very least. Would that really have been so hard to do?

Of course, the artwork is gorgeous – Michael Clark continues to live up to his high standards from previous works here, with artwork that seems to leap off the page, most in gorgeous full-color. Notwithstanding the maps, the bulk of the artwork goes to various NPCs introduced throughout the adventure, and the pictures do a marvelous job of showcasing just who it is your PCs are electing to go up against.

The PDF itself hits most of the technical marks you’d expect of it, having copy-and-paste enabled, and having bookmarks to each major section, though it’s still worth a frown that there are no nested bookmarks to sub-sections. I’d also like to see things like Mac-compatible files and epublishing versions available, but the lack of these certainly isn’t a deal-breaker. I should also note that there are some points of errata throughout the adventure as well – Cardinal Thorn’s CR, for example, is one point higher than it should be (unless it was bumped up to account for his gear, in which case that should be mentioned). Again, nothing that’s worth taking points off over, but if you have the time you may want to double-check a few things.

The book’s first act begins immediately where the last one ended, with the PCs now ready to turn against their patron, Cardinal Thorn. Indeed, at this point Thorn is already making preemptive strikes against them, whether the PCs have antagonized him or not, as his paranoia (and failure to act in accordance with the strict dogma of Hell) has already pushed him to the edge. The first act is therefore a mixture of dealing with Thorn’s agents as they attempt to kill the PCs and bargaining with his former associates to usurp his position. It’s here that the PCs manage to deal with the contract they signed way back in Book One, and the manner in which a particular loophole is exploited is quite diabolical indeed.

This part of the book features a sidebar wherein the author admits to this act’s repetitive nature – roughly a half-dozen encounters with outsiders teleporting in to either talk or fight. He mentions, wisely in my opinion, that you might want to consider spacing at least some of these out – this is good advice, but may be hard to put into practice; as I read it, only the last section can really bet set later in the adventure. Virtually all of the rest are required for setting things up. Also, the third section struck me as somewhat awkward, as it’s incumbent on a character from the previous Book having escaped alive – this is a bit tenuous for me; something should have been put in there to make this more definitive.

The book’s second act takes a detour, as the PCs now regroup and meet up with the Fifth Knot to gain some new intelligence on another old foe. The paladin Sir Richard has his story detailed here in full (something that takes a surprising three pages, and brings up another small complaint I have – at this point the PCs will only have met Sir Richard in combat once. There are supposed to be other instances where they come near each other, but these are easily downplayed unless the GM takes steps to play up the paladin’s accomplishments. This section, which covers his story in one place, makes it easier to do that; I just wish this had been highlighted earlier).

Of more pressing concern is that the paladin is currently on the Isle of Chargammon, attempting to secure funds for the army Princess Bellinda is trying to raise. The PCs must race there, overcome him and his company of knights, and make a decision as to whether they can try and kill their righteous foe once and for all, or something far more sinister.

This second act is the built-in “downtime” between the first act and the rest of the adventure. While it does have some combat, only the last part (with Richard and his fellows) is truly a threat to the PCs; far more important is what they do with the intelligence they gain, and what they do with Richard after his defeat. This islargely setting the direction for where to go next.

In this case, that’ll likely lead to the book’s third act; now that the PCs know that Cardinal Thorn is a lich, it’s time to go after his phylactery. Of course, this is no easy win – the phylactery is hidden in the lair of a truly terrible linnorm that dwells in a lonely cairn filled with undead. Contrasting to the previous section, there’s little politicking to do here; this is purely a smash-and-grab, and it’s likely to be a tough one. Of course, smart PCs will know better than to go charging in blindly (indeed, there are multiple notes in the book about one particular encounter being a likely TPK if the PCs don’t play it smart). Of course, once the PCs have the phylactery, it isn’t quite over, and then there’s the question of what to do with it.

I didn’t have any major complaints with this areas, as the book’s sole choke-point in terms of difficulty is addressed directly in a sidebar. I do wish that some discussion had been given to groups who try to employ the “fifteen-minute adventuring day” schtick, as this part of the book seems to lend itself to the PCs resting for a day after a difficult encounter, as most of the creatures are location-based.

The book’s final act is the assault on Thorn’s sanctum sanctorum, the Agathium. This two-level temple to Asmodeus is the final showdown with their old master and his few remaining servants. This last act is a mixture of the second and third, as there are multiple opportunities to make deals with some of the NPCs here, but at the same time there are plenty who won’t be willing to negotiate. Ultimately, this makes it something of a straightforward dungeon-crawl.

I quite enjoyed this section for its mixture of bloodlust and diplomacy, as it invites the kind of role-playing that I think Pathfinder does best. I do wish that there had been a larger section on the threats on the journey to the Agathium, but this is a small complaint as it does cover at least one obstacle on the way there, and by this time the PCs are likely using magical travel anyway, so it’s something of a moot point.

Far better is that this last section lends itself much more easily to scaling. The NPCs are largely divided by this point, thanks to Thorn’s paranoia and mismanagement of his resources; this can easily be changed if the PCs seem like they’re having too easy a time of it. I also don’t think this section suffers from the same “fifteen-minute” problem as the previous one, not because it necessarily goes out of its way to work around it, but because it’s somewhat self-evident that the PCs can’t stop halfway through a major assault on Thorn’s base of operations and then just pick up where they left off. Any GM who lets them get away with that is being far too lenient.

Once the PCs have settled the score, the stage is set for the final conquest, but unfortunately that will have to wait until the final book.

Luckily, this one doesn’t end here. A two-page FAQ is given on various areas where the PCs could go off the rails. In previous books, this was helpful – here, it is an absolute necessity. I’m frankly amazed that this section is only two pages long and yet manages to cover virtually all of the major deviations that the PCs could take; GMs would be well advised to pay close attention to this.

Following this is a section titled “Children of the Night,” a continuation of the same section from the previous book that deals more with vampire and lich PCs; whereas that was focused on the flavor of running an undead PC, this article focuses on the mechanics.

For vampires, the balancing mechanism for a vampire PC is largely handled as a feat tax. Specifically, becoming a vampire is set as a five-feat tree; only three feats are necessary to become a vampire, but gaining the full powers and benefits of the template from the Bestiary takes all five. This works well, I think, to balance the panoply of powers that vampires get (particularly since the vampiric weaknesses are not that difficult to ameliorate for smart PCs).

Liches are treated somewhat differently. Lichdom requires only a single feat, but crafting a phylactery takes months of constant effort. While some may find this lopsided compared to the degree of feats a vampire needs to pay, I think that it’s important to recall that vampires gain much greater utility and offensive powers than liches do, so I found this to be a comparatively equitable price to pay.

Of course, these aren’t the only feats in the book, as over a dozen new feats, and a half-dozen new spells and magic items each, all specific to the undead, follow. With spells such as “restore the destroyed” (a “resurrection” for the undead) and magic items like “the false heart” (so that a vampire may remove their real heart from their body, protecting it), these will definitely enable undead PCs to stretch their rotting wings to the fullest.

The book’s final section is similarly crunchy in what it offers. Titled “Hellbound” and written by Jason Bulmahn, here we’re given four new Asmodeus-specific class archetypes and nine new feats; most of the latter revolve specifically around striking deals with agents of Hell in exchange for power, albeit at the cost of your soul. Most of these were quite good, though I wish the antipaladin archetype had explicitly called out that changes the class alignment to Lawful Evil.

There’s one other aspect of the book that was disappointing in its exclusion; the PCs minions (a la the minion rules from Book Two). There’s simply very little for their minions to do here, as the book focuses almost exclusively on the PCs’ tactical actions against their enemies; while it can’t be helped given the nature of things coming to a head, it’s a shame that there are no opportunities for greater villainy undertaken on a wider scale here. Hopefully the evil followers of the PCs will play a greater role in the final book.

Having said that, the fifth book of the Way of the Wicked is a different beast than its predecessors, but not a lesser one. Here, there are extremely few good-aligned creatures to fight; instead, this is a battle against other villains to crown yourselves as the undisputed master of evil. This adventure is the first part of the dark reward your PCs will have been yearning for since the campaign’s start, and they’ll surely reap it with relish. From now on, each PC will bow exclusively to The Devil My Only Master.


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Contributor

Be evil, my friends. Way of the Wicked #5 now available!


Indeed! Added to my collection, now to kick back and read through these deliciously evil pages.


Paizo Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Legends Subscriber; Pathfinder Tales Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

My precious!


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Thanks Liz!

Gary McBride
Fire Mountain Games


10 people marked this as a favorite.

I am not always evil, but when I am I prefer Way of the Wicked. Stay evil my friends.

Grand Lodge

Whoo hoo. It's out here too.

And Gary, I've already got a list coming your way of edits and revisions for this book. Sorry. ^^;

For those who defeated Brigit and are still low on XP, a suggestion...

to build up more:
add the Celestial-blessed (Solar) template to her. I'll be doing that with my group for that added umph. The backstory is that she doesn't want to be defeated by the villains and asks for another shot. Unfortunately, with her being banished from the Material Plane, she can't go back easily. However, a solar is willing to merge with her so that she'll be able to go back one last time before she'll have to return. His power will give her 24 hours of time to locate and dispatch them.
That won't be necessary though. As Dessiter has come to the party with this news. They were take her out completely, but they failed. However, this is not their fault, and no one is blaming them. No one could have forseen this. If the PCs want a little bonus, Dessiter won't be against revising the contract a little. Put a little subclause in there for taking out the advanced version of this being. The optional encounter will still take place as written.

Just an idea. The guy would be nameless for now, but I'm sure he'll have a name once Book VI comes out. Something tells him he'll be the final, FINAL encounter. Although I could be wrong too.


Paizo Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Legends Subscriber; Pathfinder Tales Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

I love that cover, it's very evocative.

It reminds me of how I've always pictured the Clocktower of Tyre in "Hell in Freeport".


Paizo Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Legends Subscriber; Pathfinder Tales Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Gary, is it on purpose that the Agathium is not marked on the map?

Scarab Sages

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Woot! Already purchased! :)

Grand Lodge

Bought bought bought! Gary Mcbride is a genius and these are awesome idea mines, rich with creative ore, even if you never intend to run the AP!


TAKE MY MONEY GARY. JUST TAKE IT.


And I have to wait a few weeks before I can get it! Arrgh!

Oh well, I'll just have to look forward to the review until it's actually in my grabby little paws.


Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Zaister wrote:
Gary, is it on purpose that the Agathium is not marked on the map?

Interestingly enough, it's on the map at the end of the book.


Paizo Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Legends Subscriber; Pathfinder Tales Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Alzrius wrote:
Zaister wrote:
Gary, is it on purpose that the Agathium is not marked on the map?
Interestingly enough, it's on the map at the end of the book.

Oh, I've totally missed that map at the end.


So it turns out that Gary has a direct feed to my wallet or something, because money keeps disappearing from it every couple months or so, though to be fair, it's usually replaced by awesome

Silver Crusade

Yay!


Gary, just reading over the Children of the Night pt. 2...

Spoiler:
For the Vampire template, the suggestion of 5 feats seems a little steep, especially since they probably won't be getting access to vampirism until after level 13, at least as far as the story is written.


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Gary, about the everybody favourite frost giant...

Spoiler:
Why does he waste a feat into martial weapon(great axe)?? Giants are proficient with any weapon mentioned in their stat, and beyond that, the king is a 5th level barbarian too. So he has proficiency with all martial weapons. He's already "wasting" feats in things like skill focus: stealth, but this feat does pretty much nothing at all :/

Beyond that, a huge Great Axe does 4d6, not 3d8 as mentioned in the statblock.

I think your low levels Big Good Guys were spot on in optimization (Sir Balin is a beast), but at high level, they seem to be built "holding punches", using a lot of not very optimized stuff -like Skill Focus Stealth on a Huge Giant that will have, at best, +7 in proper conditions, against characters with +25 or more in perception, is a waste. So is Improved Great Cleaving finish, for the most part: if the Big Guy is dropping more than one PC per turn, then something is horribly wrong. In 99% of encounters, that's simply a NPC who lacks two feats. Furious Focus or critical focus would be be much better. I guess this is on purpose, to avoid too much TPK among non-optimized parties or weak combinations of parties, or whatever, and I understand it, but this is too much holding punches in my opinion.

I agree with DSRM too, the suggestion of 5 feats for becoming a vampire is way too much. Unless the character is planning to be a vampire from level 1 (AND has the chance to do so), it's impossible. If they start becoming a vampire at lvl 12-13 in Glastenhall, this means they won't be a full vampire until lvl TWENTY ONE. Including having less CON for a good bunch of levels in the process. And then, and only then, they can start using other vampire-related feats (such as form of the swarm, etc). That means those feats are epic level (you can't take them until lvl 23 or more...) I don't think any of my players want to be a vampire, but if any of them wants, I'll ditch this enterely. Probably I'll put him in the slow progression table, and be done with it.

The suggestion for Lich seems better. It's a bit expensive, but at least it's doable.


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By the way... Dissiter is a GREAT character. I'm going to put a bit more spotlike on himm. Probably he'll be present in the Manor in Book I to certify and make the Knot Contract, and thus make the PC know him sooner and treat him more. Probably will appear in Book II, in the White Raven's stuff too.

The scene between the PC, Dissiter, and the Pit Fiend is just plain awesomesauce. I'm going to delight that one. So much Roleplaying potential.


Eric Hinkle wrote:

And I have to wait a few weeks before I can get it! Arrgh!

Oh well, I'll just have to look forward to the review until it's actually in my grabby little paws.

I feel with you. I wait til drivethru has the POD+PDF Bundle. As much I like the book - I don´t spend extra 10$.

Somebody want to get the waiters some info on the archetypes (they are OGL or not?). Only a overview would suffice.

I am really curios about the magic item which Gary inserted to bring strife into the knot. What qualities it has? How mighty is it?


gustavo iglesias wrote:
The scene between the PC, Dissiter, and the Pit Fiend is just plain awesomesauce. I'm going to delight that one. So much Roleplaying potential.

+111

I really liked the encounter with Chargammon in his lair in book IV, but this one is even better, a really difficult thing.
I really want my party arrive there, in the middle of book II right now.


The archetypes are good, and very asmodean. I'm not sure if they are OGL (where should it say?). I guess they are, but in any case, I'll give only a small review.

The hand of tyranny has "command" instead of "stunning fist". It also swap "wholeness of the body" for a "pain strike" that nauseate/sicken.

The antipaladin swap "aura of cowardice" for "aura of obedience", which allow to "command" people with Intimidate. Later, they can Dominate a single thrall.

The Torturer swap Solo Tactic and the extra feats, for torturing stuff (That alone makes it a good archetype for ranged inquisitors, as there are not a lot of teamwork feats for ranged). PEople tortured must roll a save, or be forced to answer questions truthfully. Sort of "speak with the not-yet-dead". Later, they can torture as a standard action (Allowing for in combat use), and torture can also apply conditions, such as sickened, nauseated, fatigued, shaken, etc. It's flavourful and balanced.

The barristan is the best one, imho. It has an ability to heal asmodeans believers with it's channel energy (which makes it the archetype of choice for this AP) and also an ability to do stuff with contracts.

The item is powerful, but not artifact-level. It's two very good Core Book rings, combined into a single item, plus a flavourful ability which is good, but not overpowered, which allow you to cast Deeper Darkness under some conditions.


DSRMT wrote:

Gary, just reading over the Children of the Night pt. 2...

** spoiler omitted **

Remember in book 4 there is an option for players to become vampires from the adventure start. These 5 feats help balance it.


Warsor wrote:
DSRMT wrote:

Gary, just reading over the Children of the Night pt. 2...

** spoiler omitted **

Remember in book 4 there is an option for players to become vampires from the adventure start. These 5 feats help balance it.

Yes, it helps to balance this case, IF there's only one or two vampires. If all the players are vampires, you don't need to balance them, all of them are in the same boat.

It's still a *hard* cost. Specially if you have to play several levels with reduced CON at low levels and survive. But make any other case impossible (such as using the Prince of Glastenhal offer). It's especially costly if you compare it with Lichdom, which cost 1 feat and 1 expensive magic item, and it's arguabily better (it has much less drawbacks at the very least. You can play during day, you have less vulnerabilities, you don't need to feed on people...)


Brigit lair is so cool, that I'm thinking if my players kill her in book IV, she'll have a sister that they have to fight in book V. That lair is too good to let it go just because Brigit is dead :)

Grand Lodge

For those that are upset about the vampire feats, just take it as a base class as suggested in 3.5 and put in the unofficial PF Savage Species Bestiary. Considering it was originally +8 LA, which meant no HD, saves, or skill point progression, five feats is probably a bargain. The only difference now is that it's eight base class levels with 3/4 progression. As for the lich, there's a prestige class that you can take and you'll only lose three spellcasting levels. If those are still important to you, the WotC (which will now be third party) feat Practiced Spellcaster will give you those back.


I'm happy enough with WotW lich. 120.000g item, and a feat, seems about right. 120.000g is a damn high tax anyway, so is 120 days forging. That, and I'll add slow chart progression.

For vampires, I think I'll go something similar, but I'm not sure yet. I think none of my Players want to be a vampire, so unless any of them suddenly wants when they learn about Prince of Glastenhall, I don't even need rules for it. In Pathfinder, Vampire template is +2 CR. In WotW, I think it's less powerful than in a regular adventure path: there are a LOT of paladins, good outsiders, and celestial stuff that can Smite Evil, which does double damage against undead in the first hit. There's also a few spells that punish them (Sunburst and similar). It's cool, and powerful, but the PC are already taking CR 17 stuff as allies and cohorts in the adventure.


You also don't need all five feats listed in this volume to be a vampire. Three to be a bloodsucker (on top of the class mojo). If you want to crank the vampire aspect of a character to 11 (Spinal Tap not a game mechanic), then you can jump on it earlier with a little help from your evil GM. But if you want to thematically be a vampire...that's much more drive-thru for a couple feats.


I still think 5 feats is a bit much. I might lower it to just 3 feats.


gustavo iglesias wrote:
Warsor wrote:
DSRMT wrote:

Gary, just reading over the Children of the Night pt. 2...

** spoiler omitted **

Remember in book 4 there is an option for players to become vampires from the adventure start. These 5 feats help balance it.

Yes, it helps to balance this case, IF there's only one or two vampires. If all the players are vampires, you don't need to balance them, all of them are in the same boat.

It's still a *hard* cost. Specially if you have to play several levels with reduced CON at low levels and survive. But make any other case impossible (such as using the Prince of Glastenhal offer). It's especially costly if you compare it with Lichdom, which cost 1 feat and 1 expensive magic item, and it's arguabily better (it has much less drawbacks at the very least. You can play during day, you have less vulnerabilities, you don't need to feed on people...)

I look at it as the players are getting a powerful bonus for no levels traded in and vampire requires no gold, crafting feat, or 5th level spells. In my campaign I will probably wave the feats if the players perform the special quest in book III for the Prince. The story quest will effectively reward them with the template if they so choose. I'm sure they'll be spending plenty of other feats on some of the general undead feats anyways.

However I could see a DM using the 5 feat chain if the PCs start off all vampires from the start, basically being bitten and slowly transforming as their powers blossomed.

Grand Lodge

Gary,

Questions about the brine dragon.
1) Is it plain Ancient or Ancient Wyrm? Is it LN?
2) You said that we'd get into that later, but I don't see anything about it later on in the book. Do we make it up as we go along?
3) Is there only the brine dragon and the merfolk? How many merfolk? A whole city worth? Various levels?
4) Is there any issues with bringing the dragon to the side of the wicked?
5) How about the merfolk?
6) Does the brine dragon have his own horde as well?
7) Is there anything specific we should know about before doing this encounter?

Scarab Sages

Had a look through the book and loving it. (Going to be a while till I run it though).

Awesome book, in an awesome AP.

Grand Lodge

Just came out, and it's by Little Red Goblin Games, who've made some decent 3 PP stuff, but they've just released a book classes for vampires and liches. They couldn't have timed this better. I haven't bought it yet, but I intend to.

It's called Substitution Classes


Mmmm, substitution feats might work for this... :)

If someone wants to become vampire after the prince of glastenhall act, he could swap some feats he know for this feats (or the first three feats). I'll think about it.


YEAAAAH BABYYYYY !!!! BOOK V !

Guys I love you ! Bought !


Hi Gary,

I am reading your article on becoming a vampire. Can you be more precise on what you gain at the last vampire level ?

Also I like the adventure as it is with Asmodeus involved and don't like too much the alternate adventure for vampires.

My PCs are now in Act II book 1. Could I have Tiadora as a vampire ? or should I add someone else ? I understand they could get bitten in Book III too but it seems late already (13th lvl).

I find the story so Fan- Tastic that I don't want to change the whole "Asmodeus is watching you " thing... ^^


Major Longhorn,

Though the two articles about vampires and liches have generated a lot of discussion (and I'll be addressing more about that throughout the day), it is important to remember ... this adventure path is not primarily about either.

It is about playing villianous PCs.

Twelve pages of the more than 600 pages of the AP when finished are dedicated in two appendices to this play option.

Ignore it and you lose nothing.

Gary McBride
Fire Mountain Games

Sovereign Court

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BiggDawg wrote:
I am not always evil, but when I am I prefer Way of the Wicked. Stay evil my friends.

I like the cut of this fellow's jib.


The Most Interesting Man wrote:
BiggDawg wrote:
I am not always evil, but when I am I prefer Way of the Wicked. Stay evil my friends.
I like the cut of this fellow's jib.

As do I.

And let me make a general comment before I begin sorting through all the comments I missed this weekend.

Thanks for all the feedback and encouragement and thanks to everyone who bought the book. We sold more books this weekend that we did in our first month of existence as a publisher. It's so great to see Fire Mountain Games thriving and we couldn't do it without your support.

Gary McBride
Fire Mountain Games


Just finished reading through the adventure for the 2nd time. Gotta say, it feels perfect. Epic in scale, satisfying encounters. The art is nice, and I've been meaning to say this for a while, but I love how the art adds your own personal touch to what the monsters look like!

I'd say you have outdone yourself, but something tells me I need to wait for the 6th book to say that

Grand Lodge

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I have my concerns about the title. It is over the top and could bring another wave of anti D&D publicity if the wrong parent runs across it.


sieylianna wrote:
I have my concerns about the title. It is over the top and could bring another wave of anti D&D publicity if the wrong parent runs across it.

Those fathers would do it for "Way of the Wicked" too. Any kind of name that mentions something about the AP itself would be doomed, if those people run across it. I'd rather deal with it.

The AP itself will be fought with bigotry and stupidity for the content, whatever the name is.


sieylianna wrote:
I have my concerns about the title. It is over the top and could bring another wave of anti D&D publicity if the wrong parent runs across it.

Most of those parents are too busy yelling at Mass Effect 3 for turning their children gay, but I suppose it's always a little bit of a concern

(ps. no trying to belittle your concern, because sadly it is valid, only the shortshighted kneejerk reaction of some of these anti-whatever groups)


Greetings all,

Why does vampirism take five feats? First, it doesn't. You're a lesser sort of vampire after the third feat. Five feats gets you all the way to being a master vampire. This not how I'd do things in a campaign where everyone is a vampire. This is how I'd try to balance the template in a campaign where only one PC is a vampire.

The vampire template is a powerful one -- it grants six feats and eighteen points of stat increase. Yes, there are substantial weaknesses. But a five feat investment doesn't sound out of line.

Anyways, if it still seems unbalanced to you, then here's a real simple house rule to alleviate the cost -- given then the first feat for free when they are bitten. Two feats (i.e. at most four levels), they'll be the undead. And four more after that, they'll have mastered their dark gift completely.

Vampire vs. Lich -- the lich's problem is not one of character investment -- it is one of money and time. Finding 120 days to craft a phylactery and 120,000 gp in spare cash is a major limiting factor. In fact, its so daunting, I imagine many PCs will simply never manage the task.

I considered allowing a feat-based/no-time-and-money lich route, but could never come up with something completely satisfying and honestly ran out of space.

Vamps and lich PCs could easily be a book of their own.

Gary McBride
Fire Mountain Games


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sieylianna wrote:
I have my concerns about the title. It is over the top and could bring another wave of anti D&D publicity if the wrong parent runs across it.

While I find it unlikely that a third party PDF/POD publication will ever generate anything close to a media wave, I would remark that "Way of the Wicked" is ultimately a 600-page example of why being evil and letting the quest for vengeance and power consume you is a bad idea.

Playing a villain is fun. Just ask actors. They say that all the time in interviews.

Mistaking "Way of the Wicked" (or any piece of fiction that highlights villainy) as a treatise defending being real-life evil, is simply not its intent.

But thanks for your interest and taking the time to express your feelings on this matter!

Gary McBride
Fire Mountain Games


I'm re-reading the vampire rules, and actually I find them quite balanced. It cost you 5 feats, but give you 5 feats also. The only problem, is that they override an option of the AP (the Glastenhall Prince stuff), because you can't transform into a vampire if you start collecting feats at level 10 or so. One option could be to handweave it (saying "you owe me the next 5 feats if you transform"), or to allow for "feat substitution" (saying "the transformation is a painful event, and you'll forget some things you already know. You have to pay this amount of feats to transform"), or a combination of both. That allow for a balanced transformation, but doesn't need 10 levels to do so.

EDIT: what Gary said :)

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Fire Mountain Games wrote:
Mistaking "Way of the Wicked" (or any piece of fiction that highlights villainy) as a treatise defending being real-life evil, is simply not its intent.

Actually, I've been reading "Way of the Wicked" threads for months with no real concern. It's "The Devil: My Only Master" which seems like it could cause problems.


sieylianna wrote:
Actually, I've been reading "Way of the Wicked" threads for months with no real concern. It's "The Devil: My Only Master" which seems like it could cause problems.

Gary (ie Fire Mountain Games) will be well within the realm of defensibility against the thought police if they come a-knocking. It's a creative work. It is not a religious or philosophical text. It is not claiming to be history, science or other type of technical, operational or instructional manual. It is part of a series of books that is clearly marketed as an evil adventure path for a roleplaying game. As such, "The Devil My Only Master" shouldn't be any more open to being tossed on the book burning pyre or pulled down from Paizo's site than Book 1 when taken in context with the AP's content (a bunch of devil bound evil-doers that sacrifice for their dark gods and perform heinous acts of "evil"). It has been transparently marketed and labeled to be exactly what it is...an evil adventure path. Thus, the uninterested and easily offended can avoid it and move along.

The old Dungeons and Dragons = Satanic Cult trope caught on primarily due to the fact that D&D was marketed as a game and the religious hysterics wailed and gnashed their teeth at the insidious corruption of the young by forcing them to form cults. Never mind that they essentially made the whole thing up as they went along. Advance the world a few decades and the groups that still think role playing games are evil...would think any Pathfinder rpg book was just as bad or worse.

So while the title of Book V could cause some people to get their feathers ruffled, it's no worse that calling M. Night Shyamalan's movie "Devil," or any other fictional work that bears the big "d" word in it.

I in no way speak for Gary, but in the interest of those gamers that are having fun with this adventure path let's move back to discussing the adventure and the Ap as a whole. So, if you intend to cause problems based on the title of this book then feel free to do so. I won't try to stop you being offended by the title. That is your right to have your own opinion. Otherwise, count your point as noted and let's all move on to discussing the adventure and it's supporting articles in context.

Any further commentary on Book V?

Grand Lodge

Gary, I know you said you'd get to responding to everyone's comment and concerned, but I just wanted to bring notice to mine again regarding the brine dragon and his servants.


I must say I love this adventure path! At first I was wondering if it was worth buying, money well spent. I love the vampire feats, im currently trying them out on my brother's character. Now i just wanted to know, you guys think there will have room for a feat chain to play a half-fiend of somesort or some other type of sinister being.

Anyways cant wait to see the next book.

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