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Pathfinder Adventure Path #74: Sword of Valor (Wrath of the Righteous 2 of 6) (PFRPG)

****( ) (based on 11 ratings)
Pathfinder Adventure Path #74: Sword of Valor (Wrath of the Righteous 2 of 6) (PFRPG)
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Chapter 2: "Sword of Valor"
by Neil Spicer

The Wrath of the Righteous Adventure Path continues with “Sword of Valor,” by RPG Superstar Neil Spicer. The PCs, now invested with righteous mythic power, are poised to become the greatest heroes of this seemingly endless war against the demons of the Worldwound… provided they can succeed at their first mission. The citadel city of Drezen was once a symbol of the First Crusade’s triumph against the Worldwound, yet when a larger horde of demons attacked, they shattered Drezen’s defenses and captured both the citadel and the crusaders’ symbol of power. Can the PCs help lead an army north to reclaim Drezen and recover this potent relic, or are they marching their comrades and followers to a gruesome demise?

This volume of Pathfinder Adventure Path continues the Wrath of the Righteous Adventure Path and includes:

  • “Sword of Valor,” a Pathfinder RPG adventure for 6th-level characters with 1 mythic tier, by Neil Spicer.
  • An exploration of the ways cultists stitch themselves to demonkind, by Jason Nelson.
  • A hoard of legendary relics lost to horrors of the Worldwound, by Ron Lundeen.
  • The search for a rogue demon hunter in the Pathfinder’s Journal, by Robin D. Laws.
  • Four new monsters, by James Jacobs, Jason Klimchok, Jason Nelson, and David Schwartz.

Each monthly full-color softcover Pathfinder Adventure Path volume contains an in-depth adventure scenario, stats for several new monsters, and support articles meant to give Game Masters additional material to expand their campaign. Pathfinder Adventure Path volumes use the Open Game License and work with both the Pathfinder RPG and the world’s oldest fantasy RPG.

ISBN–13: 978-1-60125-568-6

Note: This product is part of the Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscription.

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Product Reviews (11)
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****( )

DISCLAIMER I've written this review as a player participating in the Wrath of the Righteous adventure path. I have not read the adventure or its backmatter, and so I cannot comment on the quality of the writing or specific mechanical elements of the adventure. Furthermore, it is quite possible that my GM has tweaked parts of the adventure to fit our group of players. I can, however, provide an account of my impressions of the adventure after a successful playthrough.

Also, this review contains spoilers for Wrath of the Righteous #2: Sword of Valor.

With that out of the way, let's see how this adventure performed at the gaming table.

As the second installment in the Wrath of the Righteous adventure path, Wrath of the Righteous #2: Sword of Valor continues the epic story of a righteous crusade launched against the hordes of demons that threaten to undo the world. The demons have been driven from the ruined fortress city of Kenabres, and the momentous events that wrapped up the first book have all but destroyed the wardstones. All is not lost, however, because the heroes are here to save the day, fueled as they are by mythic powers. The question is, did the heroes have fun?

The premise of the adventure is simple: With a mandate granted by Crusader Queen Galfrey, the heroes lead an army of paladins into the Worldwound. Their mission is to deliver the occupied city of Drezen and find the powerful Sword of Valor. As a result, the adventure is divided into three parts: the march through the Worldwound, the assault on the city, and the search for the Sword of Valor.

The first part, the march through the Worldwound was my favorite part of the adventure. It featured everything I hoped it might - mass combat, despair, evil machinations, betrayal, all of it set against the backdrop of the Worldwound. This part of the adventure offered plenty of opportunities for some fun roleplaying, and it gave another glimpse into the wickedness of the demons and their allies. More importantly for me, though, it showcased one of the strengths of the demons in the Pathfinder RPG - their different approaches to the concept of destruction.

It is easy to think of demons as one-trick ponies whose only modus operandi is SMASH KILL MAIM! That would be a mistake, though. During the heroes' march through the Worldwound, their resolve was tested as the forces of evil constantly sought to destroy the army through subtle means. Whispered suggestions and damning words of despair, infiltrations of the army camp, soldiers accusing fellow soldiers of crimes committed by agents of the Abyss.

The mass combat was a mixed affair. I had fun as I took an active part in the planning and execution of the battles. Our GM did a good job describing the battles. However, if you were to ask some of my fellow players, I fear their enthusiasm might not be as profound as mine. It seems to me that the mass combat system created by Paizo lacks something in the sense that, as written, it fails to provide an immersive experience for everyone at the table.

The second part of the adventure, the assault on Drezen, featured more mass combat as our army fought the city's defenders. We spent quite a bit of time debating how best to approach the liberation of Drezen, debates based on intel provided by scouts. Each section of town would grant us certain boons, so it was a matter of us to weigh those boons against the level of resistance present in each section.

For me, this part of the adventure featured one of the higlights of the campaign so far. The annihilation of our army of paladins. The paladins had crushed all resistance with a single army remaining - a band of disorganized cultists. Based on our GM's description, there was no indication that this army would present a significant obstacle, and so our army took to the field. A couple of abysmal dice rolls later, both armies were destroyed. The battle showcased another issue with the mass combat rules. It's entirely too easy for a poor die roll or two to destroy an army.

We turned what I felt was a low point in the campaign into the highlight it became through a great bit roleplaying. 100 men had sacrificed their lives to clear a path to the citadel for us. They had endured through several battles against a determined foe before the onslaught had become too much for even our valiant holy warriors. The impromptu memorial was one of the best roleplaying sequences I can remember enjoying in my many years playing roleplaying games.

Finally our heroes were ready to assault the Citadel of Drezen itself and avenge our fallen brothers-in-arms. This third part of the adventure contained a traditional dungeon crawl, and it started with a bang.

As our heroes approached the citadel, we were attacked by what I can only assume was a mythic chimera. What a fun encounter that was. Very cinematic and against an extremely tough opponent. The citadel had its share of demonic minions as well, and the first real Boss of the campaign - Staunton Vaine - was slain. All in all, the citadel was a relatively traditional dungeon, but enough demon taint was there to give it that extra flavor. I suspect that some of the encounters in the citadel were placed there by our GM, so I won't comment on those, just in case my suspicion is correct.

As I mentioned earlier, I played through this adventure as a player, and as such I don't have any insight into the mechanical aspects of the adventure. However, I *can* comment on the general level of the challenges that were thrown at our characters. With a couple of exceptions, the encounters in this adventure felt a bit light. I didn't feel that we were really challenged. The exceptions, however, were brutal. The above-mentioned chimera brought my character to negative hit points and for a while we feared it might be a TPK. Another encounter, this one in the citadel itself, resulted in the deaths of two characters.

For the most part, Wrath of the Righteous #2: Sword of Valor was absolutely stellar and dripping with flavor. Lots of roleplaying opportunities (including meeting Crusader Queen Galfrey herself), interesting locations, NPCs with incredible depth, and some fun encounters. While this adventure did have a weakness - the mass combat - my overall impression is that this is a very well written adventure. Thank you, Neil Spicer, for another fine installment in the Wrath of the Righteous adventure path.

A mixed bag

***( )( )

First, I would like to mention the quality issue. I have now finished running the first two parts of Wrath of The Righteous and both books have fallen apart. This is the worst of the two with large sections now falling out. The quality of the binding on these books has been disappointing.

What about the adventure itself? There are a lot of things about it that I like. It has a heroic feel that fits well with the theme and tone of the adventure path. I like the idea of the characters leading the counterattack against the forces of the Worldwound at the start of the 5th Crusade. It does a good job of using the NPCs, both heroic and villainous. There are a lot of good encounters and interesting twists. It sets up Drezen for later books.

There are a couple of things I don't like about it. The mass combat system is a novelty and it is overused early on. Mass combat just isn't that involving for most of the players. Several of the maps in it are very large and expensive to print to scale but largely unused. The Citadel Drezen map was huge and expensive to print but consisted mostly of empty rooms. The Gibbering Swarm map used earlier on is a prime example of a map that is far bigger and more expensive to print that is warranted by the few encounters on it.

Enjoyable thus far, but some issues

***( )( )

I've been running Wrath of the Righteous for my normal gaming group, and we are enjoying it greatly. The mythic rules are well-liked, for the most part, and the setting is loved. The issues we've had are 1) a lack of stand-alone mythic feats, instead of those augmenting pre-existing standard feats, and 2) the mass combat rules. My group really dislikes them, so I have had to move to a more cinematic description of the battle, with more standard encounters representing their part in it. This has worked well so far, but it was a bit tricky for me to do on the fly as a relatively new GM. This option was recommended in the adventure path itself, but I wish there had been an appendix with stat blocks for those of us who honestly dislike the mass combat rules but aren't so good at balancing encounters on the fly.

I did have what, based on other reviews I have read, is apparently an existing issue. I got the Sword of Valor hard copy and, within a half hour of starting to run the game, the book began to fall apart on me. The first 16 pages came completely out of the book. It was a major irritation, but not one that will prevent me from continuing to use the hard copies of the adventure path. I just wish the quality control was a bit more on the ball.

That said, I highly recommend this adventure path. It is an enjoyable game, with plenty of options for those who want their characters to feel Mythic.

Mass combat mythic goodness

****( )

The plot of this module is pretty straightforward: you have an army and need to take the city of Drezen and recover an artifact, the Sword of Valor (actually a battle standard, not a sword). That's it, as easy as it gets. There is an atmosphere of post-battle wasteland in the area, a feeling of chivalry and epic glory in the air. The crusade against the demons invading the worldwound is an ideal setting for paladins, knights and the such.

It's a pretty nice adventure with a mixture of linear plots and open choices. Some encounters look really difficult but the mythic rules enable some crazy stuff so I trust the authors on this. The final guy has three +16 attacks... but again, the PCs should be 9th level with 3 mythic tiers at that point.

This adventure assumes the use of two additional rulebooks in the Pathfinder Roleplaying game line on top of the core rulebook. If you are not using either the Mythic rules from "Mythic Adventures" or the mass combat rules from "Ultimate Campaign", you will need to retool the module quite heavily.

In my opinion, although the mythic rules are important, for the actual play, the use of the mass combat rules is more so. The reason being that there are quite a few army vs. army encounters. If you don't intend to use those rules, you will have to replace them for something more fitting and that will take time on your part. Something similar happens with the mythic rules. If you don't use them, the mythic-level encounters will be much tougher. The book suggests to use the fast advancement track in that case.

My rating: 4 stars. A couple of things detract from the overall score but it's a top-notch product. The rulebook dependence might be an issue for some potential buyers, though.

Read my full review here

Introduction to Mass Combat

***( )( )

This adventure is based on mass combat, it could have been great but falls short of what it could have been. When i first looked at the description I imagined something like the seige of helms deep from Lord of the Rings, or Assault on Kings Landing from a song of ice and fire but i suppose my expectations were too high. The mass combat rules accomodate only a single player and that leaves me coming up with another way to entertain the other 3-4 players while 1 of them is commanding.

The Good:
Interesting idea to give command of an army to players and the addition I loved the NPCs presented but my players arent quite as fond of them as the ones presented in the first one with the exception of the bard, Nurrah. Finally an introduction into the worldwound and plenty of nasty encounters to throw at them and alot of shiny items that borders on "loot porn." Mass combat rules are cool at least. The mythic bad guys in this game are very fun to use and if their stats are reworked then they are very deadly and challenging and more to what a mythic challenge should be like.

The Bad:
The mass combat rules should have included multiple armies or skirmishes to insert during a battle. It was exciting for the player in command of the army but everyone else was bored. I put some other stuff for them to do but there was only so many before we just needed to finish the mass combat or abandon it. At one point the army was reduced to a single hit point and at least half of my players breathed a sigh of relief because they thought they can finally ditch the army they were given and the army's commander felt like her shiny new toy was taken from her. So either all players should get their own army, no one should or have something to make the other players feel equally as important to the war. But it mostly feels like it was in there just to sell Ultimate Campaign because looking ahead, after the second module mass combat is not touched again. A series of encounters and optional encounters keeping track of "siege points" based on completed tasks would have been a much better way to do it.

On an unrelated note the wealth per level i dont think is taken into account of the pre written encounters leaving an average party significantly stronger than most of their adversaries. The railroad here also gets very wide allowing more freedom but little choice in the direction of story progression.

Final Verdict: 3 stars. It was a fun adventure but sharing many of the same faults as the first adventure in that it was heavily railroaded, the challenges were a little too easy and the mass combat was just not very enjoyable.

Oh, and the hard copy book could have just been a bad batch but it was falling apart within a week. After returning it for a new one it had the same problem where the glue that holds the pages together would not hold up to actual use.

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