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

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

FRM1001E


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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.


A Knot of Thorns Review

5/5

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

I am sure that the opportunity to play through an evil adventure path is enough of a lure for many gamers. However, what is special about Way of the Wicked is that it does evil so well. This book contains a helpful article about the pitfalls of running an evil campaign and how to avoid them. This advice is spot on and faithfully followed by the writers themselves.

Pros:
Player creativity is heavily encouraged. There are lot of scenarios that require problem solving and can't be resolved with brute strength alone. This gives players a lot of opportunity to put the lawful evil in their alignment to good use.

Talingarde is an interesting place. At first glance, the country seems like a Lawful Good utopia. However, it actually has a lot of issues, such as restrictions on academics, religious intolerance and general complacency. This really helps with backstories and roleplaying, as the characters, despite being evil, have believable reasons to resent their home country.

There is a lot of inspiration for how to make the NPCs feel vibrant and memorable. Everyone delighted in taking down the magister because he had been so rude to them, but they all felt awful about killing the man who ran the rookery. Then of course, who doesn't love Grumblejack the ogre?

While the entire book is strong, the final act is on another level. Unlike the rest of the book, players are given almost total freedom as to how to solve the task they are assigned. This freedom allows almost every build a chance to bring their skills to the table. Most importantly, up until the final act, the players are mostly just fleeing the law and following orders from their new master. The final act is where they finally get to feel like they are evil puppet masters, manipulating things from the shadows.

Cons:
The boat ride in the third act is a little uninspiring, compared to the rest of the book. It feels a bit like a string of random encounters, most of which don't further the story. If your players enjoy that, go for it. Personally, I cut about half of the encounters, especially since we were using story based leveling.

The story is very linear and can easily lead to players feeling railroaded. This is by far the book's biggest problem. There is a built in assumption that players will follow along the path provided for them. If this doesn't happen, the AP's method of dealing with it is fairly unpleasant, going as far as to outright kill non-cooperative characters at one point. There is a line in the character creation guidelines about the AP assuming that players say yes to an opportunity to work with Asmodeans, so build a character that can say yes. Find it. Bold it. Underline it. Circle it. Make sure that your players understand that it is 100% required. If everyone is clear on this point, your game will most likely run smoothly, without this being a major issue.


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Grand Lodge

baron arem heshvaun wrote:
Gary, James Jacobs talks about his 'Way of the Wicked' PC here.

Very cool. Guessing the elder half-brother is a human wizard, from what I'm reading.


The party has befriended Grumblejack and he has helped them escape. Now they want to keep him around. I was wondering how to handle this. Should he get a share of the xp and level along with party?

Grand Lodge

Macgreine wrote:
The party has befriended Grumblejack and he has helped them escape. Now they want to keep him around. I was wondering how to handle this. Should he get a share of the xp and level along with party?

Absolutely not. He doesn't start leveling up until everyone in the party is level 5, so no xp for him. Consider him the same as a cohort. Eventually one of the PCs will be able to take Leadership and he'll level up that way. Same goes for treasure. As long as the party buys him stuff so that he can survive the war, he'll remain faithful. By the time they're done the training, he'll be LE instead of NE.


I am not sure if they was ever discussed, but Grumblejack's personality.. any deeper insight into it? How do you see him?

Grand Lodge

Grollub wrote:
I am not sure if they was ever discussed, but Grumblejack's personality.. any deeper insight into it? How do you see him?

I took it as what's there. He's superstitious of arcane magic, at least until someone in the group shows him that it's really just a responsibility like divine magic is. Also, he's very loyal to those who saved him (aka the Ninth Knot). By Book 2 he's LE, but I had it so that he was also trained alongside everyone else and in doing this, he was taught the ways of Asmodeus, making him LE earlier.


2 people marked this as a favorite.

Grumblejack is NE, which means he's self-centered and not particularly loyal to the PCs. He's sticking with them because they've treated him well and they seem to be winning, but if he gets a better offer, he'll consider it.

While he is with them, though, he follows their lead. He prefers to solve problems with violence -- i.e., when the PCs met young Timeon, he was disgruntled that they decided to try charming him instead of torturing him. But in his mind, they're in charge (for now), so he accepted it.

Otherwise, Grumblejack is a fairly straightforward character with simple motivations: he likes eating, sleeping, sex (not with human women, thank goodness -- anybody under six and a half feet tall is just too scrawny -- but he's hoping to meet some "orc chicks"), and smashing things. He's smarter than most ogres, so he'll occasionally surprise the party with a useful comment or insight. Oh, and he gets very pleased with himself when he kills something.

Doug M.


Just had an e-mail exchange with Gary. He is alive, and Book 6 is about to go to final proofreading.

Doug M.


Yes, indeed I am alive. I'm way behind on these forums thanks to a grueling work schedule combined with personal complexities.

Here's my advice -- do not schedule working on three books, finishing up a kickstarter, running a small business, organizing two trips (one intercontinental) and your daughter's birthday party in one month.

Anyways, I'm back. I'll try to catchup this weekend and dig through the miles of unread posts.

Gary McBride
Fire Mountain Games

Grand Lodge

Fire Mountain Games wrote:

Yes, indeed I am alive. I'm way behind on these forums thanks to a grueling work schedule combined with personal complexities.

Here's my advice -- do not schedule working on three books, finishing up a kickstarter, running a small business, organizing two trips (one intercontinental) and your daughter's birthday party in one month.

Anyways, I'm back. I'll try to catchup this weekend and dig through the miles of unread posts.

Gary McBride
Fire Mountain Games

Good to know that you're alive, and that seems like sound advice.

Don't forget about the triton oracle in Book 1. Still need the revelations.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
kevin_video wrote:

Good to know that you're alive, and that seems like sound advice.

Don't forget about the triton oracle in Book 1. Still need the revelations.

I'd give him fluid nature and water sight. I'll make a note to add that to the errata.

Gary

Grand Lodge

Fire Mountain Games wrote:
kevin_video wrote:

Good to know that you're alive, and that seems like sound advice.

Don't forget about the triton oracle in Book 1. Still need the revelations.

I'd give him fluid nature and water sight. I'll make a note to add that to the errata.

Gary

Thank you muchly.


I have a question regarding book 6's release date. Some places are still listing an October 2012 release date but unless you are hiding a time machine somewhere I think that is a no-go. :)

Is there an updated date I can hope for?

- Gauss


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Book 6 will be released next week according to Gary (the author) on his facebook page!


Fire Mountain Games wrote:

Yes, indeed I am alive. I'm way behind on these forums thanks to a grueling work schedule combined with personal complexities.

Here's my advice -- do not schedule working on three books, finishing up a kickstarter, running a small business, organizing two trips (one intercontinental) and your daughter's birthday party in one month.

Anyways, I'm back. I'll try to catchup this weekend and dig through the miles of unread posts.

Gary McBride
Fire Mountain Games

SPOILER BOOK 2

Yeah and please give me some insight what you planned when you wrote that Ezra (in Book 2) will try to complete the ritual herself. I tought she couldn´t even enter the room (besides she is etheral and can´t simply cut a heart out).


Why couldn't ezra enter the sanctum?

I plan

Spoiler:
to make the betrayal right in the last rite, after the PC have cut the heart, sprinkled the unholy water, and all those pesky physical things

Grand Lodge

Updated stats for the triton oracle, thanks to Gary giving us the revelations. Gear is still as per the book. Meant to do this the day of, but I forgot to upload it.

Triton Oracle of the Waves:
Nerianus, male triton oracle (mystery of waves) 4
CR 7
XP 3,200
NG Medium outsider (native, water)
Init +1; Senses darkvision 60 ft., low-light vision; Perception +7
--------------------------------------------------------------------------- ---
DEFENSE
AC 20, touch 11, flat-footed 19 (+1 Dex, +5 armor, +4 natural)
hp 63 (3d8+4d8+14+7+7)
Fort +8, Ref +5, Will +12
--------------------------------------------------------------------------- ---
OFFENSE
Speed 5 ft., swim 30 ft.
Melee +1 trident +8 (1d8+1)
Oracle Spells Known (CL 4th; concentration +8)
2nd (4/day): slipstream, summon monster II (small water elemental or 1d3 dolphins only)
1st (7/day): bless, cure light wounds, sanctuary, touch of the sea
0th (at will): cure minor wounds, detect magic, ghost sound, guidance, light, mage hand, mending, resistance, stabilize, virtue
Mystery Waves
Spell-Like Abilities (CL 7th; concentration +11)
1/day—summon nature’s ally II (Small water elemental or 1d3 dolphins only)
--------------------------------------------------------------------------- ---
STATISTICS
Str 10 (+0), Dex 12 (+1), Con 14 (+2), Int 10 (+0), Wis 13 (+1), Cha 19 (+4)
Base Atk +6; CMB +6; CMD 17
Feats Iron Will, Mounted Combat, Ride-By Attack, Toughness, Weapon Focus (trident, heavy crossbow)
Skills Craft (any one) +7, Diplomacy +14, Heal +8, Knowledge (planes) +7, Knowledge (religion) +7, Perception +7, Ride +5, Sense Motive +11, Stealth +7, Survival +7, Swim +10
SQ oracle's curse (haunted), revelations (fluid nature, water sight; DC 16)
Languages Aquan, Common


Fire Mountain Games wrote:

Yes, indeed I am alive. I'm way behind on these forums thanks to a grueling work schedule combined with personal complexities.

Here's my advice -- do not schedule working on three books, finishing up a kickstarter, running a small business, organizing two trips (one intercontinental) and your daughter's birthday party in one month.

Anyways, I'm back. I'll try to catchup this weekend and dig through the miles of unread posts.

Gary McBride
Fire Mountain Games

Just good to have you back here with us and to hear the good news. And I'm glad you got through everything okay.

Any chance we'll get some information on the ultimate fate of Grumblejack (and maybe a final stat block) in book six? For some bizarre reason I've wanted to see Grumble become the puppet king of Talingarde almost since he first showed up.


Patrick Kropp wrote:
Book 6 will be released next week according to Gary (the author) on his facebook page!

I cannot be the only person delighted to hear this.


Ahhh facebook, I wont use that monstrosity. Thanks Patrick :)

- Gauss

Grand Lodge

Eric Hinkle wrote:
Any chance we'll get some information on the ultimate fate of Grumblejack (and maybe a final stat block) in book six? For some bizarre reason I've wanted to see Grumble become the puppet king of Talingarde almost since he first showed up.

Actually, yes. We get to see the final incarnation of Grumblejack. There's a picture of him on Facebook. No posted stats of course, but he looks like he's now half-dragon with his huge horns and wings. Or he could be a paragon. I honestly couldn't say. I'm looking forward to this.


I think Half-Fiend lies closer?

Grand Lodge

Patrick Kropp wrote:
I think Half-Fiend lies closer?

That's Book 2.

Grand Lodge

So the side quest that I had the PCs go through nearly killed them. That was rather dangerous. Didn't think chopping down wood and collecting silver bells would be so dangerous for them. Apparently it really can be. Especially if Grumblejack is dominated and told to wipe out the group. Hell, one of the PCs got hit with leprosy while the other was hit with ghoul fever. They also very nearly turned to silver. It was really quite frightening.

The PCs are back and healed though so they'll be ready to take on the basement test that everyone else seems to have passed.


kevin_video wrote:
Patrick Kropp wrote:
I think Half-Fiend lies closer?
That's Book 2.

Yes, but who said the picture in book 2 is after his transformation? ;)


kevin_video wrote:

So the side quest that I had the PCs go through nearly killed them. That was rather dangerous. Didn't think chopping down wood and collecting silver bells would be so dangerous for them. Apparently it really can be. Especially if Grumblejack is dominated and told to wipe out the group. Hell, one of the PCs got hit with leprosy while the other was hit with ghoul fever. They also very nearly turned to silver. It was really quite frightening.

The PCs are back and healed though so they'll be ready to take on the basement test that everyone else seems to have passed.

What kind of a side quest was this, exactly? Were they fighting fey?

And I suppose this is as good a place as any to ask -- does anyone know of any Pathfinder modules that would work well as side quests with WotW? I've been looking at both Academy of Secrets and Tomb of the Iron Medusa, though they're rather high level and both need some work to fit into this campaign. After all, it's normally taken for granted that the PCs aren't evil.

Grand Lodge

Eric Hinkle wrote:

What kind of a side quest was this, exactly? Were they fighting fey?

And I suppose this is as good a place as any to ask -- does anyone know of any Pathfinder modules that would work well as side quests with WotW? I've been looking at both Academy of Secrets and Tomb of the Iron Medusa, though they're rather high level and both need some work to fit into this campaign. After all, it's normally taken for granted that the PCs aren't evil.

Thorn felt they were a little wet behind the ears so he had them go chop wood from the greenwood grove (special material) that's North of the swamp, but failed to mention that Sap Demons (Midgard Bestiary) lived in them. He wanted 20 lbs worth brought back. As well, in the area there should be a Silver Bell plant. He wanted them to try and retrieve 400 gold worth of bells from it without being turned into silver.

I'm going to be using the adventure in the D&D 3.5 Frostburn book as a side adventure that the Ice Troll King sends them on, after meeting up with Fire Axe.

As for other side quests, I've just been reading the back of Book 1, as well as a couple of the other books (Book 2, Book 3, and Book 4), and just implementing those where I can. Some might have to be homebrew, but the majority of what's to be handed out, is all there. This is what I've got listed for doing to the PCs:

In Book 1, do Frostburn adventure Delzomen's Iceforge. The Ice Troll King and his men can't get in because of ancient dwarven enchantments. All hated enemies (giant subtype) can not get in. If the PCs are half-giants, or of the giant subtype, this could be a problem.

In Book 2, do The Wreck of Dawn Trimphant and use "Diver Down" adventure from Greyhawk Adventures. The artifact is "Amenorian, The Blade of Hope", in the Artifacts of the Ages Legendary Weapons book

Book 2, deal with the ghost druid. Also, for the skis'raal side quest, Gary said: "take a medium-sized giant spider, lose the vermin trait and make it a magical beast and up the INT to 10."

I'm waiting until Book 5 for this one, but for Barrow of the First King, use Dungeon Magazine 13's "The Treasure Vault of Kasil".

Right now, everything else is homebrew. I haven't found any pre-written adventures that fit too well with the rest of what's given to us.


Looking for some DM advice here, so 3 of the guard captains have been eliminated leaving Capt Barnhold. Now the party has tried to poison him with oil of taggit which he passed the save on but does he know that his food was tainted since he passed the save therefore would begin to become suspicious, especially since two of the other captains fought in a duel to the death based purely on the letters the pcs lifted. I'm asking this since it seems that only one pc is basically taking down three of the four captains, he wants to wait until Barnhold is asleep and use his high stealth to just go to his room and coup de grace a seventh level fighter. Any advice on how to handle this to make it more fun for the entire party as well as an actual challenge?

Grand Lodge

Randomdonkey wrote:
Looking for some DM advice here, so 3 of the guard captains have been eliminated leaving Capt Barnhold. Now the party has tried to poison him with oil of taggit which he passed the save on but does he know that his food was tainted since he passed the save therefore would begin to become suspicious, especially since two of the other captains fought in a duel to the death based purely on the letters the pcs lifted. I'm asking this since it seems that only one pc is basically taking down three of the four captains, he wants to wait until Barnhold is asleep and use his high stealth to just go to his room and coup de grace a seventh level fighter. Any advice on how to handle this to make it more fun for the entire party as well as an actual challenge?

Fluff wise, have Barnhold still feel unwell. The poison doesn't take effect, but he knows something's not right. He'd go to the local clerics to see if he ate something bad, or if he's coming down with something. They'll tell him that he'd been poisoned. With that knowledge he'd be on extra guard, and probably tell his most trusted guards. This would put everyone on high alert, and he'd have his room alarmed just in case. This way, if the PC's foolish enough to try enter his room, an audible alarm will go off and the guards who've been informed will immediately rush to the room.


Randomdonkey wrote:
Any advice on how to handle this to make it more fun for the entire party as well as an actual challenge?

I would use an old GM trick:

I'd say to the player "hey, don't know if you have noticed, but if you keep doing that, the rest of the players are going to get bored with the game soon".

Ussually works.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

When will this come off backorder?

Grand Lodge

JMD031 wrote:
When will this come off backorder?

Gary mentioned on Facebook that he figured it'd be around the end of the month.

Grand Lodge

Just getting things ready for the next session, and I just realized that the shrieker doesn't have its stats listed. It's in the Forgotten Foes book.
However, what's listed in the book is a CR 2 (600 xp) so it could either be advanced HD or it could have the Advanced template.


That's because shriekers don't have stats :)

Grand Lodge

Cheapy wrote:
That's because shriekers don't have stats :)

Weird. Because the one I listed did. So did the original ones from 2nd edition. I'll be using the CR 3 version anyhow. Make it more of a threat to my PCs since they're all 3 HD now.


TPK in second session...

After months of hype and build up I managed to get my WoW campaign off the ground last week... all ready with full size battle maps made for Branderscar Prison, homemade pawns for all the NPCs, etc , and 4 great PCs... Alchemist, Tiefling Rogue, Anti-Paladin, and Cleric.

First session went great but then the characters argued over what to do with Grumblejack (who was geting excited at their escape and making lots of noise), and eventually decided to kill him.

Then this week things went from bad to worse... bad rolls against a few dogs and a PC died, and others took damage from battles with 2 guards and a fat drunk cook with meat cleaver (that I added)... Then they fled from the kitchen to the Tower just as the alarm was raised, only to run straight into Mathias on his way out...

Some more bad PC rolls, a magic missile and a flaming sphere later... and it's a TPK.

Now I am wondering what to do. My PCs are excited enough about the campaign to have no problem making new PCs, but I want a cool start for them, not just something simple (and boring) like the new PCs begin at the Manor having already been recruited by Tiadora.

I was toying with the idea of having the new PCs sent by Tiadora to Branderscar to ensure the original PCs made it to the manor (in case they decided to flee instead)...

The session would start with them sneaking into the Prison at night, only to witness the death of the original PCs... . Now with their mission snarfed the new PCs have to get back out of Branderscar and report back to Tiadora...

Thoughts anyone? Gary?


WoW. They had to have either a lot of bad luck, or a lot of bad tactics there. Killing Grumblejack is not a smart move either. Why was it so excited and noisy? But yeah, sometimes the dice decide to play against the story. That's why having Hero Points (or Dark Hero Points) is so good. It gives the PC some plot control and Bad Die Protection.

Your idea for the new group isn't bad.

Grand Lodge

"Dark Favors" is my favourite name for the villainous version of the Hero Points. My players know that they're going to exist, just don't know when. I've told them that they'll have to do something really awesome to get them to kick in.

As for what you should do, Caen, I'm not 100% sure. I have to admit that my group didn't have anywhere close to this kind of trouble when they first started. That's unfortunate that they got taken out like that, but make that's a good thing. Hopefully make them realize some things. I have to admit that I fear how many characters they're going to go through between now and the end of the game if this is any sign of how things are likely to go.

Really, the only suggestion I have is do this: have their next set of characters escape from the caravan. Tiadora will teleport inside, pull off their hoods, explain the situation, give them a veil, and the location of the manor. They'll have to escape quickly, and dispatch the guards before they get to the prison or else they're out of luck. Ahead of the road, there'll be a road block; a fallen tree. The caravan will stop and the guards will try to move it aside. This will be their best chance.

Later on, after the Nine Levels test, they are to infiltrate the prison. The Warden has three particular books that Thorn wants. You can adjust this encounter as you see fit.


Also: be generous and careful with the encounters. Remember, this is not a regular first level adventure. The PC start in an awful and unfair position, without armor, without their favorite weapons, without Pets or familiars...

Give them a chance. Don't increase tge difficult of encounters unless you REALLY feel the PC are overpowering tgem. They are a party of four, no need to add up fatty guys with meatcleavers or too much dogs. No need to add aditional difficulty with Grumblejack by making him more noisy than he should. He is there to help the players and to balance the unfair situation, where the pC are naked and the guards are armed.

In short, follow Gary's wise advice. Let the PC win. Give them a break.

Grand Lodge

2 people marked this as a favorite.

At the very least a few of the guards should have been drunk. Although, if Grumblejack's making too much noise because he's defending himself loudly, against the stupid PCs trying to kill him off without making proper use of him as a minion, then that's their own fault.


As gustavo said. It's one of those times where you can cheat the dices.

Scarab Sages

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

@ Caen, one way to change things up, but still use Branderscar would be to have an influx of prisoners.

Each player gets 4x 0-level characters. And then they try and do a mass break out.
(this is basically via Goodman Games Dungeon Crawl Classics)

For WotW, I would recommend then that everyone has to do Focus/Foible method of character creation. And the intent is to get at least some of the 'prisoner's out alive. By having multiple characters, the players will have the advantage of actions on their side... but all the prisoners will be very very squishy.

To set the stage, bring up a full complement of guards & dogs.
Grumblejack is still dead, and Sgt Blackerly will probably have cleaned up his act somewhat.

Then after the herd of prisoners has been thinned out somewhat, you might let them pick a surviving character to level up to become 1st level.

Let them find a map to the manor house (obviously left by someone who didn't manage to escape... ie the old PCs) and let them trek there. Hopefully there will be 4 characters still alive. Any additional folks alive will become a 'replacement' pool for when/if the primary gets killed.

I would also recommend either Dark Favor Points or even using the bennie system from Savage Worlds, being able to re-rolling a d20 can quite a bit.

Good luck!


kevin_video wrote:
Randomdonkey wrote:
Looking for some DM advice here, so 3 of the guard captains have been eliminated leaving Capt Barnhold. Now the party has tried to poison him with oil of taggit which he passed the save on but does he know that his food was tainted since he passed the save therefore would begin to become suspicious, especially since two of the other captains fought in a duel to the death based purely on the letters the pcs lifted. I'm asking this since it seems that only one pc is basically taking down three of the four captains, he wants to wait until Barnhold is asleep and use his high stealth to just go to his room and coup de grace a seventh level fighter. Any advice on how to handle this to make it more fun for the entire party as well as an actual challenge?
Fluff wise, have Barnhold still feel unwell. The poison doesn't take effect, but he knows something's not right. He'd go to the local clerics to see if he ate something bad, or if he's coming down with something. They'll tell him that he'd been poisoned. With that knowledge he'd be on extra guard, and probably tell his most trusted guards. This would put everyone on high alert, and he'd have his room alarmed just in case. This way, if the PC's foolish enough to try enter his room, an audible alarm will go off and the guards who've been informed will immediately rush to the room.

Thanks for the advice.

Grand Lodge

Randomdonkey wrote:
Thanks for the advice.

No problem. I hope it all works out for you.

Grand Lodge

The group started the Exam of the Nine Hells.

The Exam:

- Allowed the PCs a day to rest. The final test came the following dusk.
- During the time, the ninja made two anti-toxins, the slaver made one set of iron manacles, the wizard converted all of the spells from the Warden's book to his own, the oracle rested all day, and the anti-paladin read books on demons and devils, and learned about the basic ritual for becoming a Hellknight.
- Thorn invited them all back to his office before dusk and the party realized that only five of them have been invited there. The succubus, cleric, and Grumblejack were not present. The wizard also noticed that his familiar is also among the missing. Nothing is wrong, it's just that they were not purposely invited.
- The wizard takes this as meaning that it's a challenge, and that only they are supposed to pass the exam, showing that they are strong, and don't need anyone. He believed that Asmodeus would be most proud of them if they took everything down on their own. He even goes so far as to vow that he will accept no healing whatsoever.
- The ninja is not keen on this plan, and asks Tiadora if they can get the others. She replies that they may use whatever assets that they have access to. He gets the cleric, which the oracle and slaver agree with. The anti-paladin is indifferent, but she wouldn't mind help. The wizard on the other hand is okay with doing everything alone. He tells the cleric to not heal him.
- The ninja notices that Tiadora is paying more attention to him regarding the fact that he knows that they're stronger as a group, than to the wizard who's going on and on about not wanting any help.
- Entering the long hallway, they see the accountant, Jarvis, waiting for them with an open briefcase. Inside are potions, vials, and oils at three times their regular cost. If they get in trouble, these would be waiting for them at the top of the stairs. The party is now very afraid as they can't afford those prices.
- Entering the first room, the ninja and slaver work together to slowly search for traps. The rest of the party wait on the stairs until they are done. Eventually, after checking every 5 ft square leading up to the door, they finally got to it and learn that it's the only thing that's trapped. They don't set it off, and with more searches, they eventually find the two secret doors, and alchemist's ice.
- Walking into the next room, they see the violet mold, which the anti-paladin red dragon breathes fire on, causing it to double in size, hitting and dealing nonlethal damage to the ninja in the process. Everyone immediately backed off, and threw the alchemist's ice on it, destroying it.
- Opening the door to the next room, the ninja and slaver enter first, standing on either side of the door, readied for a fight, and the anti-paladin once again breathes in the darkness room and destroys the volcanic glass and lamp.
- The vampiric mist is pissed and starts attacking. The wizard is surprised by the childish antics and name calling that it's saying in Aklo, regarding how they dared to destroy the darkness, etc, and in Aklo and Common he declares a cease-fire until he can talk to the mist. Everyone agrees. The mist shows them the two ways out, tells the wizard that he wants out and away from Thorn. That he is tired of the abuse he takes. The wizard agrees to sneak him out of the mansion, and even gives him directions with the map that they found at Branderscar, to show it the nearest city to harvest. He then tells the mist to keep moving, and only eat what it needs. Otherwise he'll be hunted. The mist agrees to the terms. The party also tell him about Branderscar Prison and how it should become a haunt for the new guards. In thanks, he tells the wizard of the location of some gold under the grates. He also mentions that since he's being so helpful, that the gold is the wizards, and his alone. Because of the contract, the wizard still splits it with the party.
- They decide to enter the room with the rack, and they are full of glee. However, the ninja tells everyone to stay outside for a minute just in case the looks are deceiving and the place is trapped.

It was at this point that I asked everyone how they looked. The ninja said that since it was the final exam, and within the mansion, he looked like himself. The rest of the party said the same thing, except the slaver who decided she'd look like an elf.

- The ninja goes around the room, and eventually finds the secret door where Timeon is. He coaxes the frightened squire into coming out, and even goes so far as to say that they're here to rescue him. When Timeon asks why, and how they knew of his location, the ninja got a bit annoyed and purposely asked "You're not very important, are you?" To which, Timeon fell for the ruse and told the ninja about being the lesser son of House Balentyne, and just how important he was. That when everyone entered the room, and decided to see just how much knowledge the all important squire knew.
- Timeon tries to fight, but they easily over power him, beat him unconscious, strip him of his gear, and tie him to the rack.
- The wizard heated up his spare unholy symbol of Asmodeus, and branded Timeon with it, then cooled it with unholy water. Using the torture rules from Kobold Quarterly 11 and the Vile Book of Darkness, they dealt 1 point of Dex damage from the mild torture. The rack did another 1 point of damage and Timeon told them of the other rooms.
- Timeon starts to cry out for Sir Balin, hoping that he escape and will come rescue him, himself or with an army.
- The wizard goes on about Sir Balin abandoning him, etc, but Timeon tells him to shut up. That the brave, valient, and loyal Sir Balin would come for him. That he'd take them all to Branderscar. The party only laughed at him. The oracle even showed him her Forsaken scar.
- The cleric intimidates the kid more and finds out about the watch tower, and that he'd be willing to draw them a map if they'd just let him go. He swore on Mitra.
- Because he swore on Mitra, and not Asmodeus, the slaver backhands him for another 3 points of non-lethal, causing the kid to go unconscious. The cleric healed the squire up with a cure light so that they could continue.
- The wizard, who has fire resistance from being a tiefling, puts a torch under his arm and shows Timeon the power of Asmodeus, to show how resistant to fire he is.
- Timeon swears again to please be released, but not on Mitra this time. He'll draw up the map, and even talked about the rookery and the affair of Mott's wife.
- They torture the kid for two solid hours. He takes another 6 hp of non-lethal damage and is dropped to 0 hp again. That's when the party openly says that they are leaving.
- The wizard's idea was to come up with a plan that would break Timeon. They leave for 30 minutes, have the oracle sneak in and talk to Timeon as Sir Balin. There, he'll break him as he snickers and mocks him. "Sir Balin" laughed at him, thanked him for distracting the evil PCs so he can make his escape, told the kid how useless, pathetic, and weak he is, and the only use that Mitra could use for the boy was to be a means for Balin to escape with his life. That a lowly squire wasn't nearly as important as a knight of Mitra. And this worked as Balin himself was the reason for each of the party members to be arrested in the first place so they knew his mannerisms and his look.
- Being so good at bluff and disguise, the oracle had no problem convincing the gullible child of who he was, and manipulating him while he was in such a broken state of near death.
- The kid breaks down and cries, as Sir Balin laughs at him some more and leaves.
- The party waited an additional 20 minutes for "Balin" to escape.
- During this time, the cleric left to go inform Thorn of what they had discovered about the kid. He comes back after having told Thorn everything they found out. Thorn did not know any of this. He wants the map that the kid promised to draw if they released him.
- Entering the room once more, they see the blubbering and now almost completely broken Timeon, in a bad state. The wizard tells him that if Timeon renounces Mitra, they will let him go.
- Timeon asks the party to please kill him. They party denies him this. They now know they've got him if he's already given up on his life.
- The wizard tells Timeon that if he works for it, Asmodeus will give him power. More than Mitra would have given him. Timeon swears to obey Asmodeus and not run away. He wants revenge on Balin and Mitra for his abandonment.
- The wizard points to the brand of Asmodeus on the kid's chest, and tells him it's a mark of honour.
- The slaver lets the kid down and even hands him a club they got from the guards back at Branderscar. They didn't trust him yet, but she didn't feel it was right to leave him defenseless. They were evil, but they weren't monsters. Well, in the literal sense they were.
- The wizard cast Resistance to the kid so he can FEEL the power of Asmodeus, as it's an at-will cantrip.
- The slaver takes Timeon under his wing, and makes him her "slave" for his crafting abilities. She'll train him up to be an excellent squire for the anti-paladin who eventually wants to become a Hell Knight.
- Quietly, Timeon asked that when they met Sir Balin, that they come get him.
- Leaving the kid behind for the time being, so he can collect his thoughts, and reflect on what just happened, they go through the other hallway into the mithral cobra room. It was touch and go for a bit there, but thankfully everyone was resistant to poison effects, or immune, so they survived that. The problem they had was the damage reduction and the spell resistance. Eventually they finally managed to take down the metal reptiles.
- The group entered the pendant room, and the ninja didn't discover the trap, but did realize that the pendant was nothing special. The slaver entered, and checked the room for the ninja and did not set off the trap as she disarmed it. He felt ashamed at the fact that she had finally managed to one-up him on something. He felt less proud about his being the trap finder.
- However, he felt better after find the secret door. The group headed down the pathway and he felt even more important when he was the first to see the two written quotes. One on a doorway, and one on a wall. The party already knows that the one on the wall is likely a secret entrance. They're not sure how they're going to go about this now that they know that one leads to a shrieker and the other a bunch of undead.

- It was at this point that I realized that the wizard was doing well, and hadn't been damaged yet. I'll be looking to take care of that next session.


Any word on when this comes off backorder?

Webstore Gninja Minion

I'm expecting a shipment from Fire Mountain Games Soon(TM)!


Fire Mountain Games wrote:

Alzrius,

Regarding hellknights, I understand we can use the prestige class. In fact, an NPC with that very prestige class appears in Book V. Maybe several NPCs.

But what we can't do is detail why Cheliaxian Hellknights have come to Talingarde. First, that would violate Paizo's IP. And second, it would defeat our purpose of making this world as generic as possible while still having a compelling storyline.

Anyways, regardless, I encourage PCs and GMs to use Hellknights in this adventure path. Certainly, they are more than thematically appropriate. And it really is a rich prestige class.

Gary McBride
Fire Mountain Games

Wouldn't Hellknights be at a bit of a disadvantage in this game? They have Smite Chaos, and most of the enemy is LG.


Axial wrote:
Wouldn't Hellknights be at a bit of a disadvantage in this game? They have Smite Chaos, and most of the enemy is LG.

Hellknights have plenty of chaotic things to smite....

Spoiler:

Thomas Blackerly, draugr, bugbears, Cpt. Eddarly, Calliaste Shanda, multiple azata, Iraen, adventurers, the cairn linnorm, demons, shoggoth, etc...

But yes, lawful good is the most plentiful alignment. I still think the hellknight prestige class has plenty of other great powers to make up for this one short-coming.

Gary McBride
Fire Mountain Games


I would imagine that Cardinal Thorn or Tiadora would help arrange the devil-duel that you need to pass in order to earn the prestige class.

What Hellknight order would fit the campaign best? Order of the Gate?

Grand Lodge

Axial wrote:

I would imagine that Cardinal Thorn or Tiadora would help arrange the devil-duel that you need to pass in order to earn the prestige class.

What Hellknight order would fit the campaign best? Order of the Gate?

There's one invented just for this campaign. It's the Order of the Brand. Read it all here.

Fire Mountain Games wrote:

That said...

Spoiler:
The Castle Branding (now Branderscar) once was the base of operations of the Order of the Brand, a group of Hellknights who fought with the Barcan king eighty years ago to keep him on the throne.

They were slaughtered almost to a man at the Battle of Tamberlyn. The only vestige of their order left is a badge in the Branderscar Hall of History (room 21). The PC finds it during the prison breaks and perhaps realizes his destiny.

For his part, Cardinal Thorn would love to see the Order of the Brand reestablished in Talingarde to support his scion's ascension.

The Brand will burn again.

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