Road to War: The Equinox Crown (PFRPG)

***½( ) (based on 3 ratings)
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The Righteous Crusade has begun!

Road to War: The Equinox Crown is an adventure for 6th-level characters waging war against the fiendish powers dominating the fallen druid kingdom of the north. Holy crusaders march into enemy territory to recapture a location of vital strategic importance, and Road to War gives you a collection of encounters and scenarios to augment the scope and flavor of the existing adventures, replacing tedious random encounters and monotonous overland journeys with exciting and evocative events. These scenarios can be played independently or linked into a unique subplot to recover the legendary Equinox Crown, a relic of the ancient druidical circles that will come in very handy later in the campaign as they face down the Locust Lord and his swarming hosts. This item forms a key touchstone for many (though not all) of the encounters in Road to War, and it is designed to grow in power alongside the PCs as they rise to become mythic heroes in their own right, standing in the breach in a war the world dare not lose. Keep your faith and your sword ready, and set out on the Road to War!

Written by the dynamic duo of Jim Groves and Neil Spicer, authors of two of the Righteous Crusade AP adventures, with art by Tim Kings-Lynne, this 26-page adventure also features a text-free player handout maps and a brand-new monster, the rock-solid durdalis, and a variety of harrowing challenges of mind, heart, and strength. Road to War: The Equinox Crown continues Legendary Games’ tradition of bringing you outstanding content by the best authors in the business, combined with amazing art and production values and innovative layout design. We hope you enjoy using our products as much as we enjoy making them, and that you’ll keep coming back again and again to Make Your Game Legendary!

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***½( ) (based on 3 ratings)

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An Endzeitgeist.com review

***( )( )

This module is 26 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page introduction (in which a rare Legendary Games typo can be found - a missing "Y" in "you" that has been eaten by the layout), 1 page back cover, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 20 pages of adventure, so let's take a look!

This being an adventure-review, the following contains SPOILERS. Potential players should jump to the conclusion.

All right, still here? Level-wise and concept-wise, this module is somewhat different from usual plug-in adventures in that is rather modular: Essentially, this module level-wise is intended to span levels 6 to 7 and are intended to make the path to Drezen more varied, providing XP and more things to do for the PCs. While they may have an army of crusaders, each encounter herein actually covers whether/how the presence of their army interacts with the encounter.

The 7 encounters herein are woven together via a subplot centering on the eponymous Equinox Crown and features a short summary of time traveled since the PCs have left as well as the number of miles they have since then covered - nice to keep track of distance etc. So what can the PCs do? Well, the trail of the Equinox Crown begins when the PCs have to essentially convince a small village to evacuate. In the night after that,. a traitor contacts the demonic forces, which results in the PCs having to fend off a couple of Hala demons and...getting the Equinox Crown. As l00t. Yeah. Somewhat anticlimactic.

When the PCs then encounter deserters, things get weird fast - during interrogation, the deserters vomit forth swarms of locusts unwittingly implanted in them and dealing with the swarms via area effects may severely damage the PC's army. On the plus-side, this event may see the PC in question automatically bonding with the crown. That being said, this also features a massive moral dilemma I'm not sure the module handles well - what to do with the deserters? Execution may seem harsh, but letting them off the hook should have a catastrophic impact on troop-morale unless sold right - and this whole dilemma is completely glanced over and ignored - why not modify their army's prowess to reflect their decisions? A lost chance there.

We also get a bit of mass combat (and intrigue) when one of the Condemned (pardoned criminals) pleads the PCs to save his men and finding out about a noble who has essentially sacrificed the unpopular company -defeating an army of shir-demons can integrate the remnants of the Condemned into the PC's fold. Pity that said noble is already dead, though - here there would have been quite some potential for a hard choice and benefits/penalties depending on your PC's inclinations - again, lost potential.

Next up would be a fight for the PCs to handle alone (after losing scouts), against a Frost Drake (Who has a miraculously large font-size in the offense-section of his statblock) in a battle with different heights (awesome) - after that, we have the PCs explore the home of an ettin guerilla fighter and his bear companion Ripclaw.

The final encounter takes place within "The Demon's Heresy" and has the PCs convince an earth-elemental guardian to cease attacks and then take out a mythic locust demon, including a mini-ritual, which is nice, but could have used some more detail. The pdf also contains a full-blown bestiary entry for the earthen guardians, the Durdalis and a very detailed entry on the equinox crown as well as suggested means of increasing power.

Finally, we get no less than three awesome, grid-studded full color player-friendly versions of the maps of the encounters herein, adding to the module's value by providing top-notch cartography.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, though slightly below Legendary Games' otherwise almost flawless track record. Layout adheres to a 2-column full-color standard with a flame-like orange top border for a distinct look. The artworks (2 full-page beauties that could be cover-images and 2 no less beautiful smaller pieces) are simply gorgeous and on Paizo-level. The full-color cartography also is up to a very high quality standard and the presence of player-friendly maps that can be used time and again is a huge plus for the value of this module.

So, Jim Groves and Neil Spicer deliver us the Road to War here to make the journey more interesting - Legendary Games has already shown that Jim Groves can do journey-adventures well with Road to Destiny and thus I was looking forward quite a bit to this one. Unfortunately, I have to admit to being rather disappointed - it's not the fact that this is not a module, but instead more of a chain of loosely linked encounters, mind you - the encounters per se are well-crafted, utilize terrain, come with LG's trademark superior production values. That's not the problem.

Unlike all other LG-plug-in modules I've reviewed so far, this one feels a bit redundant in it choice of adversaries. While I'm a fan of themed modules/APs where your primary opposition has a theme, certain tricks the PCs may adapt to etc., the foes herein feel a bit like random encounters, also thanks to the overarcing storyline around the Equinox Crown being simply, I'm loathe to say it, boring. The item per se is nice and has some distinct, cool abilities, but story-wise, there simply is nothing going on here - whether regarding the legendary item's background or the link between encounters, this whole module lacks a compelling frame narrative. And consequence. The PCs don't have to make any hard choices herein, even though several of the encounters practically hand the DM the necessary respective dilemma on a silver platter. Choice is what makes linear journeys matter - why not choose between arrogant nobles and redeemed criminals? Why not modify the army's stats according to the decisions made? Certainly not due to a lack of capability, seeing how excellent Legendary Games' "Ultimate Battle" turned out to be.

At least for me, this linearity, the lack of consequence and the rather flimsy story of the crown and the adversaries herein drag this module down from the position its otherwise superb production values would guarantee. This becomes especially evident when seen in direct comparison with the SUPERB plug-in modules LG has crafted for Jade Regent, all of which mop the floor with this one, offering a deeper story and more varied experience for the AP and even when played as standalone offerings. Even as a collection of encounters, as which I'll judge these, the lack of choice means that PCs will not consider this a respite from a railroady journey, but rather a prolonging. Is this a bad supplement? No! But also falls spectacularly flat of what it easily could have been. My final verdict will clock in at 3 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.


It's quite good actually... but it's not what it proclaims itself to be

***( )( )

This is the first AP plug in by Legendary games that I read, and I got it because there's been quite a large gap in the AP schedule with no new books... and I needed my fix.

Anyway, the concept of the book sounds great - enliven the journey in "Sword of Valor" by creating a string of somewhat related events which will replace random encounters, making the path to Dresen more fun to play through.

Well, I kind of have to say, the book failed on that front. The book is divided into 7 sections, each of them detailing a single encounter on the road.
While some of the encounters are interesting, a lot of them don't really go any further than "Fight a drake", "Get ambushed by demons", etc. For the players, those will feel exactly the same as random encounters - the only slight difference being that there is some descriptive read-aloud text.

It's not that there aren't places where this PDF shines - one excellent section has the PCs get caught in the intrigue of a corrupt commander in the ranks of the crusaders who abandoned some of his forces to die, and another has them taking true leadership roles by making sure the inhabitants of a small town flee to safety. The final encounter is interesting, too. However, most of the new encounters are really just like random encounters that a GM rolled before the session and so was able to foreshadow them a bit.

There is one more flaw in the design that I want to mention before I get to the good stuff - and that is repetitive content.
This book is meant to be a companion to "Sword of Valor", with the last encounter actually taking place in "The Demon's Heresy", the next book in the campaign. As those who are updated on the story know, "Sword of Valor" is all about reclaiming a powerful artifact (and the sweet fortress that comes along with it). So I find it very surprising that the "meta plot" that connects several encounters in this book is about... recovering and activating a powerful artifact. Having both those quests going on at the same time lessens the impact of each of them.
And it doesn't stop there, either - one of the cnounters has the PCs fighting off several swarms of flying fiendish bugs. Sounds familiar? it should, because one of the encounter areas in "Sword of Valor" is filled with swarms of flying fiendish bugs.

So I believe the book fails at it's selling premise - to make the journey to Drezen more interesting and varied. Several themes and encounters in it are too similar to what's already going on in the adventure, and many of the encounters are really nothing more than a fight againt a random monster.
However, the book does deliver on other fronts- if you look at it as a stylish collection of stat blocks and maps with some extra adventuring content tossed in for the hell of it, you get quite a nice product. Most of the encounters feature monsters with unique stat blocks - including an application of the "man eating" template from the book 3 bestiary, a giant drake, an entirely new monster... and a mythic version of a demon. Additionally there's of course the new artifact, which is a nice touch. The maps themselves are nothing spectacular but they are very serviceable and useful for the encounters in the book, as well as any other encounters in a Worldwound-like environment.
The fact that the art and layout are the best Iv'e ever seen from a 3rd party publisher means a lot, too.

All in all I'd say the book is much closer to 4 stars than 3, as the stat blocks, map, monster and artifact are all very solid, and there is some good adventuring content that WILL enhance the journey. However, I feel like several questinable desicsions were made here, including the deja vu inducing encounters and meta plot. Mostly it's that most of the encounters really are just random - "you walk along the road when a *rolls dice* drake pounces you!" has been replaced by "you walk along the road when suddenly you feel cold, and a drake pounces you!", and that's just not enough to be considered a serious improvement, at least in my opinion.

I would still recommend this book to anyone interested in some neat ideas to improve their already excellent campaign. However, I really hope that in future similar products Legendary Games would bring something tighter and more focused than this.


A Righteous Adventure on the Road to War!

*****

A few nights ago, when Legendary Games released their latest AP plug-in for the Righteous Adventure Path, I made a point to purchase a copy from the Legendary Games site. As usual, I was not at all disappointed.

A few things really stand out about this module.

First, the adventure was written by none other than Jim Groves and Neil Spicer. Who better to expand a plotline than the very same authors who penned those chapters of the Righteous AP?

Second, this AP Plug-In utilizes a very free-form structure by breaking down the adventure into individual encounters on their armies long journey into the demon lands. This makes it easy for a GM to work the expanded story into the campaign seamlessly as the players march their army into untold dangers. Legendary Games first utilized this structure in their "Road to Destiny" AP Plug-in (for the Far East AP) and it serves quite well to provide a GM with more material to make long journeys more eventful and challenging.

Third, the production quality is extremely high. As usual for Legendary Games, the art (OMG, the art!) and layout of the material is absolutely top notch work and, in this reviewers opinion, sets the standard for other third party publishers to aspire to. The art was done by Tim Kings-Lynne, and is beyond exceptional. The maps were done by Ashton Sperry and were excellent and several of them were suitable for use in encounters beyond the scope of the adventure. After all, who doesn't need extra maps for encounters?

Road to War: The Equinox Crown expands upon the PC's efforts to accompany and command an army of crusaders as they make their way deep into the demonic lands to assault a fallen crusader fortress which has long been overrun with demons. The Crusader Queen has charged them with retaking this fortress and recovering a sacred relic in order to restore hope to her beleaguered troops. On their long march they encounter refugees who plead with them to secure another powerful relic. This one being a crown of the lost nation of druids which used to live here before the demonic invasion. The refugees fear what the demons may accomplish should they use the crown against the crusaders and ask them to find it and to keep it safe. The recovery of the Equinox Crown turns out to be just the beginning. Once it is in the PC's possession it begins to exhibit signs of its ancient power reawakening. Can your players discover the long lost history of the Equinox Crown? Can they utilize its might to help end the demons grasp on the long-lost druidic kingdom? Or is this but another demonic ruse meant only to delay their army from its holy task?

Find out...on The Road To War!


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I picked up a copy of this one from the Legendary Games site when it released a few nights ago. This adventure should serve well to make the trip into the demon lands a much more memorable experience. The Equinox Crown is sure to be a big hit with players of this AP.

As usual the Legendary Design Team has done a brilliant job at expanding an AP. I am really looking forward to running this in the future. Outstanding work!

Scarab Sages RPG Superstar 2008 Top 4; Contributor; Publisher, Legendary Games

Thanks for the kind words, Weslocke! As an early reader, we'd love to see a review from you to help point others towards this adventure!


I was planning on reviewing this one early this morning anyway, so it was no trouble at all. My composition was not in top form, as I was still working on my first cup of coffee. :)

On a side note, thanks for that refund. I was so eager to read the new plug-in that I did not even realize that I had overpaid until I got your message from paypal.

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 4

Weslocke,

Thank you so much for the review! Neil, Jason, and I really appreciate it. We hope it really adds some zest to your game. It's also wonderful to hear everything else was working on all levels as well. We had Tim Kings-Lynne on art, Ashton Sperry on maps.. and I know Jason and Rachel has been rounding up the best layout folks that they can find.

Thank you again!


It was my pleasure, Jim. You guys keep writing them and I will keep purchasing and reviewing them. :)

Seriously though, there has been a lot of great work on both yours and Neil's part on both this AP and this plug-in. Thanks for that effort. It definitely shows.

Scarab Sages RPG Superstar 2008 Top 4; Contributor; Publisher, Legendary Games

Thanks for the great review Weslocke. We've linked it over on our website and through our FB and Twitter pages.

Webstore Gninja Minion

Print edition up for preorder!

Dark Archive

I'm so excited my first foray into published maps satisfied! :D


Any idea when the print edition will be released?

Scarab Sages RPG Superstar 2008 Top 4; Contributor; Publisher, Legendary Games

I've ordered the first lot from the printer, and I believe they shipped to me Saturday, so I'll probably have them in about a week and can take them over to Paizo then.


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

I have to wonder, will adding more XP and more treasure, especially an artefact, not unbalance the later chapters of the campaign in the PCs' favor?

Dark Archive

Zaister wrote:
I have to wonder, will adding more XP and more treasure, especially an artefact, not unbalance the later chapters of the campaign in the PCs' favor?

I'd probably cut out some encounters from the published books, or just ignore random encounters and replace 'em with some of the stuff in here. As for the artifact, I haven't seen the full book, so I dunno how unbalancing I might potentially be.

But for this AP especially, high-power is the rule of the day, and if you see your PCs trouncing their foes (like my group does without using any of this bucket of goodies), you can always throw a bit more power to the demon's side. Even adding the Bestiary simple templates to a boss might help equal the scales, without adding much work to your plate (or extra treasure to arm the PCs), and if they're not cheating, they'll never know.

Scarab Sages RPG Superstar 2008 Top 4; Contributor; Publisher, Legendary Games

Amen to that. Of course, you could also upgrade some of the regular garden-variety demons in the AP to Mythic Demons. Just sayin'... :)

Dark Archive

Well played, Jason. :D


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

My experience is that trying to counter increased PC power from additional encounters in a campaign with more or better opposition only serves to make the problem bigger. More or better opposition means the PCs, who are already ahead of the XP progression, receive even more XP then expected for every encounter, which widens the gap even more, causing the GM to up the opposition more and thus generate yet more XP, once again widening the gap further, and so on. This leads to an ever-expanding gap and can seriously derail campaign progression.

I experienced this in my Legacy of Fire campaign a few years back, when I used not only the set piece for the first adventure but also a second set piece for that adventure from the forum which explored a location only hinted at. This caused my PCs to be too powerful early on, and my attempts at catching up by improving the enemies only led to the described effect.

This is why I'm skeptical about plug-ins like this, even though I like them a lot as adventures, but fitting them into a campaign where the XP progression has been plotted from start to finish, is problematic in my view.

By the way, the same effect can also easily occur with more that 4 players, or characters with more than 15 point buy.

Scarab Sages RPG Superstar 2008 Top 4; Contributor; Publisher, Legendary Games

One elegant solution is to simply dispense with granular XP tracking and go with gestalt or ad hoc leveling. When the party achieves certain in-campaign milestones, they level up. Makes problems like these a thing of the past.

I was a micromanager of XP for most of my GMing career, but I switched over to ad hoc leveling in my prior campaign and current one, and it has been delightful. Are we playing the game to do accounting or to go on grand adventures? ADVENTURE ON I SAY!!!

It may not be for everybody, but it is certainly a viable solution to the "well, I want to use this but I can't because then they'll get too many XP problems."


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

Yes with the Pathfinder RPG this is a solution, now that XP no longer are a currency, and newer adventure paths even indicate appropriate leveling points. Players might feel cheated, though, if they find out, that you make them take longer to get to these points. :)


Reviewed first on Endzeitgeist.com, then submitted to Nerdtrek and GMS magazine and posted here, on OBS and d20pfsrd.com's shop.

The Exchange

Jason Nelson wrote:

One elegant solution is to simply dispense with granular XP tracking and go with gestalt or ad hoc leveling. When the party achieves certain in-campaign milestones, they level up. Makes problems like these a thing of the past.

I was a micromanager of XP for most of my GMing career, but I switched over to ad hoc leveling in my prior campaign and current one, and it has been delightful. Are we playing the game to do accounting or to go on grand adventures? ADVENTURE ON I SAY!!!

It may not be for everybody, but it is certainly a viable solution to the "well, I want to use this but I can't because then they'll get too many XP problems."

While this solves the XP issue, using a plug in can still cause a loot of trouble ;)

I'd say the issue of the extra artifact is a serious one. The PCs in this campaign are already going to have huge amounts of powerful tools, and adding another one is not a slight matter. Probably the best way to offset this is by rationing out a bit less treasure in other parts of the adventure path.


I'm sorry to necro this thread but I thought this would be the best place to ask my question. One of my player's in Wotr is a druid and he needs a cohort. I was thinking of making Grummtar his cohort, but I'm at a loss at what kind of level he should count as.

RPG Superstar 2009, Contributor

I don't have his stats handy, but the best advice would be to compare him (and his CR, Hit Dice, abilities, etc.) to other potential cohorts and just put him around the same level.

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