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

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BE THE BAD GUY!

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

It's only fair. They burned you first.

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

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

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

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

You've saved the world plenty.

This time, the world needs saving from you.

Product Availability

Fulfilled immediately.

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

FRM1001E


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4.60/5 (based on 23 ratings)

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Fraud

1/5

I would love to give this product a higher rating but it has been written by a fraudster, Gary McBride, who tricked 315 people into giving him $40,000 through Kickstarter and refused to communicate with them for 4 years now. Despite multiple appeals from backers he has backed over 520 other kickstarters since then, logging in every week though seemingly unable to respond to his backers products. Shame on Paizo for selling the products of a con man and allowing him to continue profiting from rpg fans.

For details of the swindle and Gary McBride’s backing record see https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/730004812/throne-of-night-a-pathfinder -rpg-adventure-path/comments


Written by a fraudster

1/5

I would love to give this product a higher rating but it has been written by a fraudster, Gary McBride, who tricked 315 people into giving him $40,000 through Kickstarter and refused to communicate with them for 4 years now. Despite multiple appeals from backers he has backed over 520 other kickstarters since then, logging in every week though seemingly unable to respond to his backers products. Shame on Paizo for selling the products of a con man and allowing him to continue profiting from rpg fans.

For details of the swindle and Gary McBride’s backing record see https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/730004812/throne-of-night-a-pathfinder -rpg-adventure-path/comments


Excellent campaign

5/5

This is more of a review of the entire AP. I just finished running it after a long run. It is one of the best AP's I have run, some bits of some modules are a bit weak , I think book 5 has some problems with player actions and planning. However if you are willing to deal with all the problems a very high level party can cause and expand a bit over the last 2 books were this power gives the pc's so many options that the books cannot cover them all then this works well.

An evil party gets the chance to become the evil overlords of the land and show their true natures , mine were suprisingly subtle and restrained but it can be fun to see how things turn out.


It has begun

5/5

Despite the relative age of the Way of the Wicked it holds up very well.

Provided the players understand and buy into this campaign's concept they will have a Hell of a good time.

This chapter packs a lot of material from start to end. You get a lot of adventure for your money and the maps are well done. There are a lot of player handouts that you may want to review and re-do for the vision-impaired players (or yourself!).

Especially for the price point the campaign is worth every penny so long as everyone buys in for the long haul.


A wicked good time!

5/5

My friend turned me onto this, and while I haven't checked out a 3P adventure path before, the idea for this one was enough to get me to put some eyes on it. And really, it was a great call to do so.

What I liked:
The level of polish on this product is incredible, and while there's a few typos and such, it's nothing that detracts from the ease of use that this module boast. The idea is original and done in a fun way, the story is engaging, and I myself had a great time reading through it (hoping to run it eventually), making it something that I'd recommend to others.

The game starts off strong with a more complex first part than I was expecting (possibly too complex, but whatever), and the roleplaying opportunities are plenty. The second part is just as engaging, and the ending of it is enjoyably open ended. It really does feel like you're facing off against the forces of good, and in a very organic way as well.

What I didn't like:
The third part is a bit of a slog, it feels like filler in an otherwise tight game. Also no map of the town in part 4 was slightly annoying, and as stated by others, a reputation mechanic built into the game would have pushed it to the next level for me. But regardless, those are minor gripes. Also, you have to MAKE SURE everyone's on team pentagram or else the game doesn't work. Once you do that though, everything flows smoothly.

Overall I'd recommend this to anyone looking for an adventure path that breaks from the norm.


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Spoiler:
Glad you liked it. I can see an interesting track of development in the relationship between the lesser devil and Tiadora - especially when he gets an upgrade from a ritual in the horn.


Mark,

Spoiler:

Having a devil as a PC is really taking the game in a new direction. It works of course as you're amply demonstrating but it is definitely something that the AP as written does not take into account.

Regardless, I will continue to watch your PbP with interest.

Gary McBride
Fire Mountain Games


DM - Voice of the Voiceless wrote:

My intrepid PbP'ers made it out of the prison... though it was touch and go for a while.

** spoiler omitted **

Only thing that I really changed was to allow the evil Cleric to turn a negative channel into a single target infernal healing to help smooth out some of the low level issues that arise from not having a positive channeler / spontaneous spellcaster.

6 Charisma for the win! He'd had to walk all night and he has short legs (compared to the others), so he was feeling grumpy. Plus she was being a b+%!# :p

Grand Lodge

What I find amusing is that while not all posted here, if you do a quick Google check, you can find like eight or nine Way of the Wicked PbP games being done right now. That's pretty badass.


My party just finished our WotW Book One campaign, so +1 playing it. I just left a review. Loved the book overall. If pressed I can give more detailed accounts of their shenanigans. :)


Lomky,

Great to hear about your game. I love hearing details about actual play. Pretty much anything you care to offer is appreciated. Does that count as pressing?

Regardless, thanks for taking the time to write a review, run the game and to buy the book. We appreciate your support.

Gary McBride
Fire Mountain Games


Oh dear. I've encountered a major snag.

Spoiler:
Alright, so the party is in Aldencross, trying to figure out what to do about Balentyne. Its all going fine, they're getting leads about the Bard of Barrington and Mama Giusppe, no problem. The shifter fighter, Maku, doesn't really know what to do at first, but has the interesting idea to create the story of a "vicious monster" in the woods, with the idea that it will inspire fear in the Aldencross and eventually draw some of the soldiers out of Balentyne when the PC's go to open the gates. I thought it was a risky idea (everyone will be on guard in town because of "the Beast"), but the imagination was good and I wanted to encourage this kind of thing from the player.

So tonight, Maku decides to go around the town and leave claw marks on doors, making it look like "the Beast" was in Aldencross. He goes around, scratching doors, until he hears voices on the other side. The people living in this house heard the scratching sounds and they come to investigate. Maku runs to hide, but rolls a 2 on Stealth. The man who opened the door with a lantern in hand rolled a 19 on Perception (which I stupidly rolled in front of everyone). Maku decides to charge the commoner, easily ripping him apart with his claws. He hears another scream and sees the rest of the family in the home. Maku kills the child, woman, and uncle as they continue to scream.

Leaving out the same alleyway entrance, Maku decides to use his Iron Circlet to disguise himself as the child and runs into a guard. The guard asks what happens, tries to bring the child to safety, but Maku runs away down another alley. The guards give chase and as he rounds a corner, Maku turns back into the guise he has been using since arriving in Aldencross. The guards come sprinting around the corner and Maku tells them "The child went that way!" Got a 12 on his Bluff check but the guards got a 23 on their Sense Motive (again, rolled in the open). They don't see the kid anywhere, but haul him in for questioning and toss him in the cell for the night until they can interrogate him. That's where we ended tonight.

So I'm thinking Maku is going to be interrogated by the town constabulary. Depending on how he responds, there will be a trial (with Tiadora in the audience) and a punishment will be sentenced, but Tiadora will likely kill him if he's found guilty one night.

Wut do?


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Omega Z,

Spoiler:

Hmmm....I actually don't see this progress as a problem. It sounds quite engaging and tense. Yes, the PC was "having a bad night" as far as dice rolls, but that's okay. It landed him in an interesting roleplaying situation.

Honestly, unless Maku really blows the interrogation, I can't imagine he's in too much trouble. He wasn't seen attacking anyone, had nothing illegal on him and was basically picked for suspicious behavior and questioning. They question him and sternly reprimand him for hanging around in alleyways at night. "Don't you know there's a monster about! What if the monster had gotten you? Then I'd have to risk me own men's lives tracking your stupid carcass down!"

And they let him go.

The trouble will arise if they ever catch him doing something suspicious again. That's my take anyways.

As far as they Beast investigation goes, I like that tack. I would have Varning and his rangers assigned to go hunt the Beast. This will allow the PCs to meet them in combat in the woods. If they defeat this band, they'll have taken out a pretty major asset of Balentyne's.

Of course, all of this activity might cause Father Donnagin to start snooping around. That man is dangerous and might very well figure out what really happened in that alleyway say by observing how the footprints left in the dirt suddenly, magically changed... Of course, this should be after the PC is released.

Regardless, sounds like a lot of fun!

Gary McBride
Fire Mountain Games


Fire Mountain Games wrote:

Omega Z,

** spoiler omitted **

Regardless, sounds like a lot of fun!

Gary McBride
Fire Mountain Games

Yeah, that should work alright.

Spoiler:
Only tricky part I see is this: while the authorities don't have any information tying Maku to the crime right now, they will be doing some snooping. They're going to want to know what the rest of the party is up to, as Maku is known to have come into town with them. This includes Father Donnagin, as you mentioned. Also, Maku has spent almost everyday out in the woods "hunting" and isn't very well known by any of the NPC's. Having this extra bit of roleplaying come in wouldn't be a big problem, but NONE of the PC's are any good at social skills. Maku is also not the best role player BY FAR.

Another problem I see is that this is a magical world. Just because the guards didn't SEE anything inherently suspicious about Maku, doesn't mean that he couldn't have done anything. Donnagin or Tacitus could be called in to see if there's any arcane trickery involved, in which case the jig is up!


1 person marked this as a favorite.

OmegaZ,

Spoiler:

Really it's up to you. How much snooping the authorities do depends on how much fun you (the GM) think it would be to get the PCs in trouble so early. I would say ... go with what seems like the most fun.

Anyways, game on!

Gary McBride
Fire Mountain Games


Paizo Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Gary,

I have a question regarding the crimes the characters choose at the start of the campaign. Are they supposed to take the place of campaign traits as in a Paizo adventure path, i.e. each character takes one crime trait plus another normal trait, or are they intended as a bonus in addition to the two traits PCs usually get?


Are there any reprisals if the players don´t follow the pact of thorns?
What if the rogue tries to steal from his party members? Or something like this.


Patrick Kropp wrote:

Are there any reprisals if the players don´t follow the pact of thorns?

What if the rogue tries to steal from his party members? Or something like this.

Patrick,

Spoiler:

In Book Two, we get an example of Thorn punishing a group of followers by casting them out (The White Ravens). That's a rather extreme punishment. For petty theft, likely something more modest is called for.

Thorn is very mission oriented. Anything that gets in the way of thwarting his missions is going to be severely punished. However, if the PCs bring him a disagreement or a thief caught red-handed, he is more likely to adjudicate and issue punishments like denial of treasure, reprimands and perhaps even a night with Tiadora (she is a vicious sadist and an expert torturer).

As a GM, I would use these punishments sparingly. Let the PCs work it out if at all possible. Thorn and Tiadora are a fall back position if you feel your game is spiralling out of control.

Remember, that Thorn is very likely to quickly discover these incidents thanks to the iron circlets. So he will always know even more than he lets on.

That's my advice. Hope it helps,
Gary McBride
Fire Mountain Games


thats not what i asked for. maybe i was a little bit unclear. i meant: is something in the contract that prevents the pcs from acting against it? if not... why must they search for a hole in the contract with dissiter later ?

Grand Lodge

Convention game's over. I'll e-mail you the details during the week, Gary. Gotta go through them and clean them up some.


Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

Hi there, Gary!

Very excited to be starting up my Way of the Wicked campaign in a couple weeks!

I have a question for you regarding the map of the Watchtower Balentyne. I feel kind of dumb asking it, as in my search for an answer it doesn't seem like anyone else has had this issue, but it is just baffling me.

I'm just not seeing how the landscape works. Is Level 1 somewhat underground? (it doesn't looks it form the image on pg. 49) Is there a strategic hill? I just don't understand how there's an entrance on level 1 at 8a, and also the main entrance on level 2 at 22.

Like I said, I feel kinda dumb about it. I'm sure the answer it staring me right in the face, but I had my wife looking at it with me last night as well and neither of us could wrap our heads around it...

Anyway, thanks for your time with all these questions!

Joe


Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

Wanted to add. I just picked up parts 2 and 3 or this series, and it all looks fantastic! I'm playing with a group that I gamed with for many many years, but have been on hiatus from for a while now. We are all very excited to be getting back together and playing this Villainous campaign. I started reading it and immediately knew I had to take it to my old Sunday Night Crew.

:-)


2 people marked this as a favorite.

Joe,

Oops, sorry. I missed your question. Let's answer it now.

Yes, the north side of level 1 is underneath a hill and an earthen rampart leads up to the gate at 22.

Level 1 is the partially covered lowest floor.

Level 2 stacks on top and is completely above ground.

Level 2 of the Keep and Gate house Level 3 are on the same level (though unconnected)

And then Level 3, Level 4 and the Keep roof rise above the rest.

Hope that helps and I'm glad you're enjoying "Way of the Wicked".

Gary McBride
Fire Mountain Games


Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

Thanks, Gary!

That's exactly what I needed to know, and prompted a fantastic "AH HA!!!" reaction from the wife.


Joe,

Glad to have helped.

Gary McBride
Fire Mountain Games


Be sure to check out our Facebook page and like us. There is exclusive art, links and previews there.

Gary McBride
Fire Mountain Games


Paizo Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Gary,

perhaps you have a moment to answer my question from May 31 up there? The information would be very helpful for the PCGen dataset for this book. Thank you!


Zaister,

I did miss that question. Apologies. Yes, you still start the game with only two traits. The crime trait would be one of those traits.

Gary McBride
Fire Mountain Games


Paizo Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Fire Mountain Games wrote:

Zaister,

I did miss that question. Apologies. Yes, you still start the game with only two traits. The crime trait would be one of those traits.

Gary McBride
Fire Mountain Games

No need to apologize, and thanks for answering, Gary! It was what I expected but we were not quite sure.


Cool. Glad to help.

Gary McBride
Fire Mountain Games


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I just wanted to address one thing that was mentioned earlier here, and that is slated to come out in book 6 (would that we could wait that long!).

Introducing a new PC.

It occured to me that (at least earlier on), the easiest way to introduce a new pc would be for a name simply to appear in blood on the contract, with the old name crossed out.

Instead of animal blood...it'd be the new pc's blood (satisfying a number of elements of story, including allowing Thorn to scry on, and find, the new pc).

Then it'd just be a matter of Tiadora going to meet that new pc, travel with him to the rest of the pcs (or them to him), and make introductions.

The best part: the new pc could make any agreement or arrangement with a devil and sign any appropriate contract "serving Asmodeus"...with the new contract becoming a subcontract of Thorn's.

Well, not the best part. Even better, Asmodeus, in his wisdom and foresight, could have arranged the same as above, but months ahead of time. The new pc could be tested by Thorn, and have travelled many miles, only to arrive the day after the former pc died.

"Six months, six days, and six hours ago, I had a vision that I must be here, in this place, when the sun set. Now, here I am, and here we are, watching darkness overtake the light."


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

One other thought I had, while thinking about/prepping my campaign for Monday...

Grumblejack = Tom Waits in my campaign.

I always want meaningful cohorts/followers/etc. to have as much personality and color as possible in any campaign I do.

I wouldn't say that's missing from WotW, but I wouldn't say it's present either (for this NPC)...which is fine. I don't mind developing the personalities of my NPCs specifically suit my pcs.

So, in my campaign, Grumblejack is not just "an ogre with horns in another cell that we can exploit". He is "an ogre with a raspy voice, a strange perspective on life, has an unusal rhythym, likes to bang things...and is sincerely philosophical."

He's easy enough for the pcs to send to his death, but why would they do that rather than learning more about his (increasingly interesting, but completely off-the-cuff/un-established backstory)?

My hope is to (at minimum) break the player's (not their characters) hearts if they sacrifice Grumblejack. He was an incredibly evil inspired romantic brute destined for greatness...and all they had to do was let him accomplish his destiny..and serve them well.

Anything less...well that's a minor failure...unfortunate, but too bad. It is also a clear opportunity missed. (I want to drive that home for my pcs to point out how it is better to convert rather than to slay, when possible.)

I think I'm going to use Grumblejack as a lesson for my PCs, if they don't know the lesson already...
...treat evil beings as servants, and make them your servants...or you're not recycling...you're filling landfills and/or cemetaries.

In the most evil sense..."Waste not, Want not."

I'd like to teach them this singular lesson with a charismatic Grumblejack: If you can, enslave the powerful, treat the weak as dispensable after immediate needs have been sated...all others (unenslavable or worthless, can be fed to the hungry, whoever they may be).


Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber
Aberzanzorax wrote:

One other thought I had, while thinking about/prepping my campaign for Monday...

I really appreciate you sharing these thoughts. I begin running my own WotW campaign on Sunday, and will definitely be making use of this inspiration.


2 people marked this as a favorite.

Yes, I too appreciate you sharing your thoughts. Always interesting.

Regarding introducing a New PC. Yes, there will be article in Book 6 with a complete campaign timeline that includes notes about how to integrate new PCs. Until then, here are some suggestions:

Spoiler:

Brethren in Branderscar -- there is another prisoner found bound in another room, obviously awaiting questioning.

Waiting for you at the manor -- Thorn has recruited other individuals from other sources.

Thorn replaces your losses -- he sends a replacement to patch a hole in the Ninth.

The Son of the Fire-Axe -- Suggested by Patrick Kropp on our facebook page, the Fire-Axe sends a bugbear/goblin/other-monstrous-race to aid and monitor the PCs in Balentyne and beyond. A great chance to play an unusual race.

A prisoner in Balentyne -- You know those empty cells you may get sent to in the Watchtower? They aren't empty.

A minion made good -- You recruit someone in Farholde who has more potential than most.

Another statue -- Halthus the Flayer, the member of the death cult you free from being turned to stone, is either a PC himself or there's another statue...

Evil Adventures invade the Horn -- add a group of evil adventurers who attack the Horn. The PCs wipe out all but one and recruit that one into their ranks.

Grumblejack, Lord of Darkness -- when Grumblejack drinks the unholy water, he is actually turned into a PC.

A prisoner in Valtaerna -- After the battle, in the local jail you discover a dangerous individual held by the Order of St. Macarius for questioning.

Welcome the Nightmane -- One of the bugbear commanders you recruit is actually a PC.

Raiju the PC -- The Ogre mage Raiju the Exile, he is actually a PC.

The Traitor Priest -- Brother Barnabus Thrane is not the only traitor in the order of Mitra. He arranges a meeting with another fallen cleric -- a PC!

Dessiter's Bargain -- Not only is he willing to sign a contract, he is also willing to give you assistance in the form of a devilish PC (tieflings and even true devils work particularly well here).

A Hunter of Men -- A ranger, druid or other wilderness-born villain long in hiding in the mountains comes down to take advantage of the carnage. Instead of easy loot and provisions, what this character finds instead is a new purpose.

Anyways, that's all for now.

Hope that helps,
Gary McBride
Fire Mountain Games


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Oops, re-reading my last post, it seems to be critical in a way I didn't mean at all. Sorry 'bout that! Grumblejack is a pretty cool dude. I just meant I wanted to give him more of an angle for my pcs.

Anyway. Important NPCs, PCs, and cohorts get a "theme song" in my campaign (to be played when they do something cool).

Here's Grumblejack's. I also will be using the voice from the song as his voice:
God's Away on Business


Aberzanzorax,

Cool song.

No reason to apologize. It is impossible to fully flesh out every NPC with great detail.

Remember that in Book One, Grumblejack is a pretty minor character. He just happens to be a character that I get more fan feedback about than just about everyone else put together. So, as I am not deaf, let me promise you ... more Grumblejack in Book 4.

And thanks for supporting "Way of the Wicked"!

More is on the way.

Gary McBride
Fire Mountain Games


Hi Gary,

A player in my upcoming WotW campaign wants to play a Drow... and I just don't want to go there. So I'm going to try to convince him to play one of the mysterious ice elves of the north. Any thoughts on how they would be different from vanilla elves ( I went through the APG alternate racial traits and nothing really jumped out at me).

Also, I'd love to hear any ideas on how a stealthy solo killer ice elf ends up in a Taligarde prison, and doesn't just high tail it north again at first opportunity.

Grand Lodge

What about half-drow? They're just a half-elf with 30 ft. darkvision instead of low-light. Everything else is the same.


kevin_video wrote:
What about half-drow? They're just a half-elf with 30 ft. darkvision instead of low-light. Everything else is the same.

That could work, but really its not the power level of a drow that concerns me, but rather the story behind them. There is no underdark connection in the campaign, and I don't want to add in a whole sub plot of "revenge against the evil noble house who betrayed me"

I know its ironic to disallow the most evil race ever in an evil campaign, but the drow are CHAOTIC evil.

Grand Lodge

IronDesk wrote:
I know its ironic to disallow the most evil race ever in an evil campaign, but the drow are CHAOTIC evil.

No they're not. Not all of them anyways. You've got probably about 1/3 of them being LE. Even more so in Pathfinder. They're inherently chaotic (as in, no subtype) so they can whatever. And if you're a half drow, and there's no underdark in Talingarde, then just have him come off a ship from elsewhere. I've got a dhampir in my campaign. He's a pirate (swashbuckler rogue class). He'd been raiding the seas. Decided to come raid the continent, got arrested for his troubles.


Myself, I would allow a drow PC. In fact, I do allow drow PCs in my own Way of the Wicked home game.

However...

Spoiler:

I would replace the duergar in book 3 with drow and I would emphasize that there are darklands under Talingarde, they just meet the surface infrequently.

I agree fundamentally with you, IronDesk. Its a shame to have an evil campaign and not allow the most evil race ever.

Hope that helps and thanks for supporting "Way of the Wicked".

Gary McBride
Fire Mountain Games


hmm... okay, I'll try to be less strict - after all, the player should be able to play the character they want to play.

Thanks for the good suggestions all.


Ok yesterday we had another session Andi we reached a critical point. A short foot march in the morning after the pc dispatched the Odenkirk and his crew the they stumbled across playing childs near a farm (I made the pc hear them so they could up their disguise).

But then massacre happened. While most of the group hided our tiefling witch talked to the farmers til they saw thru her disguise (child touched her and made the save). The witch killed all she could (first the children :( )

I am really disapponted how she reacted. The woman and one farmer escaped on horseback.

The farm is a battlefield. The bugbear son of fire axe even killed a cow...

the farmers only seen the witch. How will Balentyne react?


@ Patrick,

Well, at the very least I'd say that subtlety and infiltration are definitely made more difficult. The soldiers of Balentyne should be alerted that something foul is afoot. The biggest threat to your PCs now is having the forces at Belentyne contact other surrounding fortresses or decide that it was not just a freak occurance at the farm, but a sign of greater evil in the works.

Escalating this further could keep your PC's from achieving their goals within the allotted month, and then they have to deal with a p.o.'ed Adrastus Thorn...I certainly wouldn't want to be in their boots if that happened. I'd imagine that a few hundred years being flogged and tortured by Tiadora could cramp anyone's style.

Spastic, giggling guerilla warfare might seem like fun to the players if they have decided that this is their 'style' of evil. But, there would be no chance of them killing every soldier at Balentyne in time and before other fortresses are alerted and the "jig is up."

So...it's time for your PC's to show you how quickly they can think on their feet. The situation as it stands is quite salvagable...but they need to stop being ding-bats and think like criminal master minds worthy of Asmodeus' scorn and jealousy.

Ultimately their failure might not end in their characters' deaths. But Thorn will likely bring in another of the Knots to cover the glaring ineptitude of the Ninth Knot. At this stage of the campaign, Thorn's plans are going to succeed...the PC's might just end up on the pointy end, and falling out of favor for the start of the next adventure. :-)

The best advice on the outcome I could lend your group would be to turn this batch of sour lemons into lemonade, as the saying goes.

Spoiler:
Thus, most of the initial group of soldiers sent out to investigate the farm had better come back to Balentyne...wink wink. Even better if they "catch the witch"...nudge nudge. And if the farmer and the woman can "positively identify her"...still more nudging and winking

As the GM I would send out a group of Soldiers from Balentyne to investigate the farmer's claims. From there...it's up to the PC's to save their own behinds and turn this around. However it would be best if:

[u]"Hard to Call for Help with a Dagger in your Throat"[/u]
The PC's need to quickly and decisively ambush and overwhelm the initial group of soliders sent to the farm from Balentyne including the original escapees (farmer and lady). No one can escape. If they do, you are in the unenviable position of bringing in another of the knots
More subtle methods would have been far far superior...but you've got a spastic evil witch in the group...and whining about it isn't going to keep the party from an infinity of torture in the nine hells should they fail Thorn.

Once the posse is dealt with, the party needs to assume their identities and those of the original "survivors." Then they need to chop off some of the slain soldiers' heads, mash up their features as best they can and then coat the grisley trophies in tar. Thus the players have proof that they...as loyal, law abiding soldiers of Balentyne... put down the band of miscreants..."turns out they were escapees from Branderscar m'lord!" Nothing like a little truth mixed in with a lie now is there ;-)

But wait there aren't enough PC's to assume all those identities! No problem. Bring back the carefully tended and "tear-soaked" remains of the other soldiers "lost bravely in the fight" in excess of the "returning heroes," and the farmer and the lady.

Now comes the fun part of playing an evil hot-headed character in a group full of more even handed evil characters.

The tiefling witch needs to agree to let herself be "captured" so that the party has even more legitimate and truthful proof that they ended the evil threat. This is an important aspect....there needs to be no question as to the finality of the 'bad guys.' If she refuses and decides to muck up the 'plan repair' efforts with "i will not go in chains...or..blah blah blah"...this is an apt time to make sure every player at the table is aware of the situation. Talk about it out of character and make the witch player understand that these people do not LOVE her and don't have any reason to suffer an endless agony in the fiery hells because she can't be trusted to with a plan to dump water from a bucket. If the witch is going to be "that" character then they may need to be subdued and then taken into custody.

Once the players return 'victorious' to Balentyne, they will need to come up with a way to either postpone the witch's execution, spring her from jail immediately, or any other combination of player ingenuity.

If all goes well, the PC's should have a good chance to turn a crummy 'mistake' into a classy, and decidedly infernal, Trojan Horse scenario.

A little leeway on the GM side of the screen is all it would take to reward and foster such a recovery. No fudging of rolls or implausible "you guys succeed anyway" is needed. If you see the players begin to turn it around...resist the urge to punish that kind of evil thoughfulness. There will be many more situations to come in this campaign arc where a "bad" evil plan can go poorly (due to bad dice luck or crappy role play decisions)...and they will need to think quick and recover. As befits a true mastermind villain. This is just a good training situation.

But if the players are just bound and determined to show their poker hand to the country of Talingarde before they even graduate from Evil Genius school...you have all the substantial reasoning and tools at your disposal to make this a very short WotW campaign :-)


Herbo: I love your plan. If my players would try to pull it off I would let it succeed (after a few succesful disguise rolls with their iron circlets). But I don´t think they will come up with such masterplan to turn this sudden outbreak of violence into a win situation. I sure as hell will not give them any tips. They must come up by themselves with such a plan.

Especially since I (the GM) and 2 other players were really freaked by the witch who killed the children with Burning Hands just because they rolled their save. Maybe it was my fault - I just wanted to include the farm to remind them to put on their disguises. But the witch wanted to learn information from the farmers and asked the kids to bring her to the farmstead. The 3 farmers on the field attacked her while she tried to flee and she managed to kill two and drive off the last (who fled with the farmers wife). She had her Disguise as Aasamiar (because she is a tiefling) up - so no one but the kids should really know how she looks. But they saw her casting and concluded she is a witch / sorcerer or the like.

My reaction will be:

- In Aldencross there will be Wanted Posters of the Aasamiar with a reward (500 gp)

- the rangers from Balentyne will actively search the site where the crime happened (maybe even tracking them)

- the rangers will get reenforcement from one of the acolytes or even father Donnagin, this priest will support the rangers with finding the witch (they will prepare detect magic instead virtue to find suspicious magic and as domain spell protection from evil instead of cure light wounds)

- the corpses will be brought to Balentyne for speaking with dead

- the widow maybe will make a later appearance, maybe she will rise to an avenger to revenge her housband and children

Any more suggestions? I tought of priests wandering the streets, spamming detect magic to find any magic user. But maybe thats too harsh?


Patrick,

Interesting development. Herbo gives some good advice.

Right now, Balentyne and Aldencross have no reason to believe this isn't an isolated murder by some magic-using villain and maybe a few bugbear servitors. Would a patrol be sent out? Absolutely. In fact...

Spoiler:

Yes, to speaking with the dead. That will give them a better description.

I imagine Varning and his men would be dispatched to ride down the criminals/raiders. Remember that raiding parties from the savage north are hardly a rare occurence.

However, if the PCs can get to town and slip into the population, the excitement will probably die down in a week or so.

Valuable time lost, to be sure. But hardly a game-ender.

Wanted posters will still be up for entire duration and if the witch shows her face, she could be in trouble.

You can give your PCs some good scary close-calls that will hopefully show them that a little subtlety is a good thing.

All in all, very interesting. Be sure to post how it all turns out.

Game on!

Gary McBride
Fire Mountain Games


One thing made me wonder, in one sentence it is stated that the town of Aldencross is few miles from the watchtower of Balentyne. How could it be that in The Lords Dalliance is an secret door to to the basement of the keep? Is it really a milelong tunnel - thats a long foot walk for a small "Dalliance in the night"


Patrick,

Hah. That does seem kind of ludicrous.

Spoiler:
What I would say is that if a PC notices and cares, then say this "Balentyne is up on a rise. The way to Aldencross winds several miles down the hill. The Lord's Dalliance tunnel is a much more direct route, only about half a mile but steep."

Hope that helps,
Gary McBride
Fire Mountain Games


Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

Just finished our 2nd session, and the party has successfully made it to Thorn's manor house.

The party:

Kyrin (Tiefling Infernal Sorcerer)
Imperius (Aasimar Antipaladin)
Vornlyn (Drow Rogue)
Jimmy King (Human Zen Archer Monk)
Al Sharpens aka The Reverend (Half-Orc Crusader Cleric)
Fuego (Halfling Fire Elemental Sorcerer)

Some highlights:


  • Fire branding didn't work on Kyrin, so per Gary's suggestion, Blackerly brought out the ink and needle. Unfortunately, Kyrin took the alternate Tiefling trait that gives him DR 2/slashing, so the needle didn't do much either. That's when Blackerly stopped laughing, and just started to cut into Kyrin's flesh with his dagger, inducing an F-shaped scar with nothing but a sardonic grin on his face. Kyrin does not like Blackerly. Not at all.

  • Kyrin asking for another kiss from Tiadora after Blackerly and his guards left the interrogation room.

  • After being freed by Vornlyn, Kyrin casting charm person on the guard who came in to check on the group while the drow was making a racket failing on his other disable device checks, but then being unable to take advantage when the other guard came in to check on further racket.

  • Fuego cutting the head off one of the dead guards and dragging it downstairs, intending to use it as an intimidation tactic.

  • Vornlyn stealing the horn from a guard's waist before it could be grasped and blown.

  • Imperius intimidating Irena (servant) into submission before she could scream for help, and Kyrin subsequently convincing her to return to the kitchen.

  • The glint or pure joy in Fuego's eyes when Imperius kicked open the storeroom door and found the kegs of lamp oil.

  • Lamp oil goes BOOM!

  • The Reverend draws the Asmodean pentagram in the middle of the Great Hall using the blood of one of the guards.

  • The group lets Grumblejack lead the way out into the courtyard. One of the guards on the wall blows his signal horn, and Fuego, as soon as he gets outside, casts mount and takes off after the ogre for the Gate House.

  • Vornlyn opens the door to the kennel hoping it might be a stable with horses. He is wrong...

  • Kyrin and Grumblejack are the last in the doorway leading out of the Gate House (the others all running toward the bridge) when Blackerly finally makes it to the courtyard entrance, having run around from his card game. Grumblejack moves to attack him, but Kyrin stops him saying, "No! He's mine."

  • However, on Kyrin's turn he opts only to taunt Blackerly and then run away to catch up with the others, leaving the ogre alone with the Sergeant. Blackerly charges Grumblejack, and a fight ensues. The party does not know exactly how it ended other than by the time they were opening the portcullis (having killed the guard and dog there, and then Vornlyn and Fuego climbing over), Grumblejack came running/limping across the bridge. As the ogre passed through and they closed and sabotaged the gate, they saw a group of torches moving down the winding pass towards the bridge. And then they ran...

  • By this point, The Reverend had very few hitpoints, and the group had him marching last in the order. They were surprised by Lashtongue, and The Rev was subsequently swallowed whole, unconscious within the belly of the beast. The group only just barely was able to kill the toad and cut the cleric out of its stomach before he would have died. Reluctantly, Kyrin pulled the Potion of Cure Light Wounds from the veil and poured it down the half-orc's throat. It put him at -1.

  • And so, with The Reverend slung over Imperius' shoulder, the group found themselves at the door to Thorn's manor.


Fire Mountain Games wrote:

Patrick,

Hah. That does seem kind of ludicrous.

** spoiler omitted **

Hope that helps,
Gary McBride
Fire Mountain Games

One of my few complaints about this book: the Balentyne - Aldencross area would have deserved a close up map with a smaller scale than the Talingard map. I would like to know how the landscape looks (my players did a lot of wildernis camping to dodge patrols after the farmer killing). I would like to know where the fire axe will camp when it waits on the attack signal. And I wanted to know where Aldencross is in relation to Balentyne.


Joseph,

Very cool update. Very cinematic. I really enjoyed the highlights and look forward to the next!

Patrick,

You make a good point. That would be a useful thing. If I was ever to do a "special edition" of Book One, besides errata, I would include:

Spoiler:

More text concerning arriving in Branderscar, what the PCs see on the way in.

A battle map of the Frosthamar.

More information about the bugbear camp.

And yes, a small half-page map and flavor text concerning the Balentyne-Aldencross environs.


...just to name a few.

Of course all of these things are easily improvised, but they would be nice additions. Of course, this special edition would need to be 10+ pages longer than the current "Way of the Wicked".

Note, that I'm not announcing such a product. I'm just conjecturing on what it would include...

Gary McBride
Fire Mountain Games

Silver Crusade

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Had to share this:

The Nine Lessons

It's my first real foray into making a map with Maptools. Figured I'd see what you thought, considering both my PBPs are about to hit this part.

Grand Lodge

Gary,

spoiler:
How much would Thorn enjoy having the 9th Knot having a lich? The tiefling wizard found a prestige class that actually levels you up 10 levels and eventually makes you a lich.


I have an question how you would Lord Havelyn let react to this developments:

Note: I already have an ban to going out after dark up. Doubled the active guards in the city. Wanted posters.

Spoiler:

They killed every but two farmers on a outlying farm south of Aldencross (in disguise). The souting party (Varning, 6 of his men and a acolyth) send out to find the killers was destroyed and buried near the street. Then they went to Aldencross (again in disguise).

They killed Barnabus Eisenbauch in his room after befriending him (accidently, they just wanted to steal his map secretly, copy it and put the original back, but while bringing it back Barnabus awakend).
They left town (in disguise of merchants - they even bought 50 sheep to cover their disguise) for a day and returned in new disguises.

Then my players entered Balentyne for the first time last session.

They followed the rumor of the hidden passage from the Lords Dalliance and found the secret door in the basement. After their escape route was cut off by William Marcus Marlow and a servant girl making love in the kitchen above, they decided to pay Balentyne a little visit.

They explored the Tower til they came upon the rookery where they awakened Mad Martin who was alerted by his ravens. Their first action (they won initiative) was to grab his alarm horn on his desk besides his bed and then killing him. He managed to call the ravens to his defense but the pc´s made them to chicken mc nuggets using burning hands.

Then they returned to the inn (thankfully the bard of barrington was done).

What would you - as Lord of this town do now?
Would you associate these events?
Would you let the tower be searched for a secret door?

I want them to be succesful, but I will make it as hard as I can. ;)


Just about to start the game after generating character backgrounds where I asked them each player to 'name a crime' from the list within Knot of Thorns and add it into their recent background. I then RPed a little about how they were captured in some way (depending on the character class/background/crime). Generally they were abused and debased - just to add in some hatred of those warm and fuzzy jailors and worshippers of Mitra - and then dragged hastily through the legal system and tossed into prison.

Will be running Act 1 in two weeks time. The party consists of:

Tiefling Rogue (Knife Master)
Tiefling Fighter
Dwarven Monk
Human Anti-Paladin
Human Cleric of Asmodeus

Missing for the first play session will be a Tiefling Infernal Sorcerer. Hopefully the party finds him relaxing at the manor.

Kudos on the AP - it looks fantastic and I have great hopes it plays out the same way.

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