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.

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FRM1001E


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***** (based on 21 ratings)

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Excellent campaign

*****

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

*****

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!

*****

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

*****

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.


Knot of Thorns or I am the villain!

*****

This book took me by surprise, not just in the fact you get to play the evil character but more in all the assistance they give new GM’s for running an evil game and run it coherently. The book gives good lore about the world and how to bring it into others.

It does railroad the players a bit at start but does use that railroading to build the seeds nicely instead of only explaining why the players are together. The adventure pushes nicely through its pace and really lets the players tackle a problem as they feel their characters would.

Combat is solid, challenging, but not restricting. Players are offered lots of side missions to help finish the main task and all are enjoyably evil.


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Sovereign Court

The Devil Bound template is far too powerful for a Stage 1 transformation. Instead I gave him a Mark of Baalzebul (Which gives him a +2 to Intimidate, +2/-2 to deal with demons as well as the ability to have his pores weep acidic 3 times as a free action adding +4 to an escape artist or grapple check and allowing him to add 1d6 to a natural weapon or a weapon he's smeared with the acid for 1 attack). Its a 3.5 feat but is thematically appropriate. It wasen't a free feat though and he had to give up one of his past feats to get it. As for the Demonic Aspect, he took the Crown of Thorns, which gives devil horns that do 1d4 damage as a secondary attack and count as Lawful and Evil when overcoming damage reduction. Stage 2 is Half-Fiend where he'll end up losing another feat as he'll no longer be human after that, but that won't be possible until book 3 after the vale has been taken and a massive sacrafice of 100 souls. Having a 1/2 fiend take on an Angel sounds like an epic battle I couldn't resist.


Last session we almost had two TPK's!
The first was with the bunyips. First one was quickly cut down but the second caused 2/3 of the party to jump overboard and swim away. I had introduced the Dark Favor points suggested on this thread and they ended up using two to save their asses. Asmodeus guided Odenkirk to save them at the last minute, one was dying, one was drowning and one was still panicking. I see now why people hate those things :)

The second time it was the good captain himself, who almost mopped the floor with them. The crew, who up to this point had been almost useless in the fights was lethal. They swamped the PCs and prevented them from casting spells. The mage player forgot that sleep is one round casting time so she did not have opportunity to get it off. In the end two PC's were left standing against Odenkirk and one sailor. They used Dark Favors points to boost attacks and finally brought him down. The dice were with me this time and against the PCs. I would roll 16s and 18 almost constanty. One player got 1s and 4s on almost all of his rolls.

Odenkirk as written is quite weak, I bumped him up to sixth level and revamped his rage powers. I gave him the sea reaver archetyp, as I felt it was thematic. Fortunately for the party, they managed to get him fatigued before he raged. Otherwise the outcome would have been worse.
I'm not upgrading Lord Havelyn or the captains, other than changing their gear a bit. At least not for now. I'll have to see how it goes, but I was shocked how badly they did against slightly revamped Odenkirk.

Grand Lodge

WagnerSika wrote:

spoiler:
Last session we almost had two TPK's!

The first was with the bunyips. First one was quickly cut down but the second caused 2/3 of the party to jump overboard and swim away. I had introduced the Dark Favor points suggested on this thread and they ended up using two to save their asses. Asmodeus guided Odenkirk to save them at the last minute, one was dying, one was drowning and one was still panicking. I see now why people hate those things :)

The second time it was the good captain himself, who almost mopped the floor with them. The crew, who up to this point had been almost useless in the fights was lethal. They swamped the PCs and prevented them from casting spells. The mage player forgot that sleep is one round casting time so she did not have opportunity to get it off. In the end two PC's were left standing against Odenkirk and one sailor. They used Dark Favors points to boost attacks and finally brought him down. The dice were with me this time and against the PCs. I would roll 16s and 18 almost constanty. One player got 1s and 4s on almost all of his rolls.

Odenkirk as written is quite weak, I bumped him up to sixth level and revamped his rage powers. I gave him the sea reaver archetyp, as I felt it was thematic. Fortunately for the party, they managed to get him fatigued before he raged. Otherwise the outcome would have been worse.
I'm not upgrading Lord Havelyn or the captains, other than changing their gear a bit. At least not for now. I'll have to see how it goes, but I was shocked how badly they did against slightly revamped Odenkirk.

Yeah, sometimes things just don't work out for PCs, even with any bonuses given. Book 2 nearly took out the cleric, and they hadn't even done much of anything. I just happened to roll a crit. Thankfully the Dark Favors can be used to negate death.

Havelyn isn't that powerful if the PCs are built to take down guys like him, but some parties just don't have that. One friend is running the game and everyone is a version of "the face" character. However, when it comes to combat, they just can't hold their own. It's great for RP, but terrible for anything else.

Adjust as you see fit.


Finally after two sessions of planning, pretending to be up and coming tailors (Suits you, Sir!) and thus insinuating themselves into Aldencross's society the PCs accomplished something tangible.

The villains sneaked in Balnentyne via the secrect passage during the play in the tower. They killed two guards and hid their bodies in the dwarven vault. Mad Martin was their next target. One of them took the shape of one the captains and bluffed his way in. Another dressed as a guard entered and blasted the room with negative energy channeling. This killed all the ravens before Martin even knew what was happening. Martin went then down in one round. They torched the arrow store and went to the chapel. Again, pretending to be a captain and a few guards, they bluffed the few guards they saw (I rolled 1s and 4s for their perception and sense motive) and entered the chapel. The archon gestalt was a rude shock, critting the antipaladin and hitting normally for 6d6 damage. They managed to hurt it quite badly before it dissolved into its component archons. A few of them fired their lazors but another negative energy burst took them all down. By now, the fire was noticed and alarm sounded. They sneaked their way back to the vault, stopping to burgle captain Eddarlys room on the way, finding the incriminating letters.
Next day a messenger brought captain Mott a package. An hour later Eddarly was dead and Mott in prison.
Captain Varning was next target. They went to Freeman's Rock and ambushed the patrol there. It was another quite easy battle, even though two PC's ate crits.

Two captains are dead, third in prison. The angels and birds slaughtered along with Mad Martin.
All in all a good evening of gaming. This time the dice were on the PC's side and they were better prepared for the fights. Negative energy channeling is nasty against low level opponents.

Now I'm on the fence, should I upgrade Havelyn or not. I re-equipped Barhold and Tacitus a bit and gave Donnagin some extra gear. I mean, he has only +1 breastplate and no other gear of note.

Grand Lodge

WagnerSika wrote:
Now I'm on the fence, should I upgrade Havelyn or not. I re-equipped Barhold and Tacitus a bit and gave Donnagin some extra gear. I mean, he has only +1...

At the very least, upgrade the gear that Havelyn. I gave him "called mithral" and a warhorse figurine with zephyr horseshoes.


Called is +1 weapon enchantment and even if I made it available to be put on armor I don't want the PC's to have a +3 armor just yet. I'm thinking on replacing one of Havelyns spells with Swift girding on the off-chance they catch him in his room having a nap. There will be alarm spells so he wakes up if they try to murder him in his sleep.
I will give him some useful stuff but +1 items are just so boring I have to think of something else.

Since the strange goings on in the castle, Havelyn has tightened the security for the time being. The group found out that the acolytes perform detect magic on all visitors and servants who come in. He suspects that someone used magic to impersonate one of the captains during the night that Mad Martin and two guards disappeared, Martin's birds all died, someone stole Mitran religious knick knacks (these were found in the theatre troupe's wagon) and something happened to the archons. He arrested and questioned the actors but is not sure of their guilt just yet. He suspects that some kind of foul play is going on with the Mott and Eddarly duel, but since Mott refuses to elaborate and Eddarly is dead, all he has is a nagging hunch.

The PCs found out that one of the group is under some suspicion, since the archons threw him out of the church earlier and the actors tell that he hitched a ride with them the day after the play and those afromentioned strange happenings. He was also the wittnes to the Eddarly vs. Mott duel and has been to castle twice to ask for work as a guard. His face popped up too often for Havelyn/Gates to ignore. Havelyn was not yet that suspicious, but the Gates's insisted that they detain the PC and question him (they are fanatics after all).

Fortunately for them, the PCs returned to the town (from killing Varning and his rangers) not in their usual disguises, and spotted the Gates cousins and some extra guards giving all visitors to the town a good look. Using some Diplomacy they found out that the guards are on the lookout for one of them. Using this information they lured the inquisitors to the abandoned shack with the golem underground. They managed to slaughter the poor Mitrans and their contigent of halberdiers. They dumped the bodies to the cellar, enraging the golem which burst up a moment after. This time they identified the monster and the archer inquisitor filled it up with admantium arrows loaded with Bane(the class ability). The poor thing managed to hit once before being turned to porcupine. Now, unknown to the PCs the cousins left one of Varnings rangers with instructions to see who emerges from the shack if they do not return. We'll see if the PCs will spot him or will they blow their carefully constructed covers.

In any case, the news of the Mitran inquisitors demise, and later the worry of a missing patrol will keep the alert status higher. If they had let the inquisitors keep searching fruitlessly for a couple of days they would have left the area convinced that the fugitive has moved on, and the acolytes would have stopped their scanner duties. Oh well, this is for the better (for me that is, not necessarily the PCs :D )


I just picked up the first book and after looking at the maps i am wondering is the scale correct or did a revision get missed or what because the Branderscar map says 10' squares but that would mean each gate at the bridge is 10' wide ok i accept that not to crazy but then when you reach the interior you have a 10' fireplace and beds that are 10'x20' are the room maps just not meant to be exact? that i would understand since the bars on the cells can not be 10' apart those are just a representation of the wall. any help is appreciated

Grand Lodge

cjmorrill85 wrote:
I just picked up the first book and after looking at the maps i am wondering is the scale correct or did a revision get missed or what because the Branderscar map says 10' squares but that would mean each gate at the bridge is 10' wide ok i accept that not to crazy but then when you reach the interior you have a 10' fireplace and beds that are 10'x20' are the room maps just not meant to be exact? that i would understand since the bars on the cells can not be 10' apart those are just a representation of the wall. any help is appreciated

Yeah, not everything is 100% to scale. However, you can assume the captains each have a queen size bed. There is no revision of the map.


kevin_video wrote:
cjmorrill85 wrote:
I just picked up the first book and after looking at the maps i am wondering is the scale correct or did a revision get missed or what because the Branderscar map says 10' squares but that would mean each gate at the bridge is 10' wide ok i accept that not to crazy but then when you reach the interior you have a 10' fireplace and beds that are 10'x20' are the room maps just not meant to be exact? that i would understand since the bars on the cells can not be 10' apart those are just a representation of the wall. any help is appreciated
Yeah, not everything is 100% to scale. However, you can assume the captains each have a queen size bed. There is no revision of the map.

thank you i will draw up my own individual maps for the rooms to include adequate beds and and more accurate scale.

so far i see a quality product i look forward to running it soon,


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Finished the campaign. It really is excellent fun for an evil party and I have to recomend it, no off to write a review


One of my players wants to try their luck in becoming a Hellknight and refounding the order of the Brand. He has asked Thorn about it and he said the ritual fight can be attempted as he knows someone who could witness it. He wants to do it right after Balentyne and before leveling up to 6th. In the event he fails and the devil kills him, would Thorn raise him or should I warn him to prepare another character?
Has anyone expanded the Order from what was described earlier in the thread?

In a few days we hopefully conclude this part of the AP, it has been fun so far! The PCs have killed now 2/3 of the soldiers, all captains, Mad Martin, the angels, almost all acolytes but none of the major NPCs. They are now assaulting the keep and have so far been able to avoid raising an alarm. They have not sent the signal to Sakkarot yet. If they retreat at this point what should Havelyn do when he finds out the someone sneaked in to the castle again to slay more soldiers? He has already sent riders to get help. I was thinking he would retreat to the gatehouse and wait for reinforcements there but that would make it almost impossible for the PCs to win, with all the high level NPCs in one place. Or he might just send Tacitus and Donnaghain to the gatehouse with the soldiers, defiantly staying in the main castle himself. Any suggestions?

PS. The antipaladins tactic of wading in the middle of the low level soldiers yelling "Great is Asmodeus" and then detonating his bom... channeling negative energy (3d6 at the moment) is scary effective.


I think if the party succeeded at Ballentyne, then Thorn would be quite willing to reward that success. It's not in him to break useful tools.


What Tony said. For that matter, it's not beyond Thorn to fix the fight with the devil. (Or to claim later that he did, in order to shake the PC's confidence, three books later when they become enemies.)

Ballantyne: yes, it's a balancing act between playing them Lawful Stupid and playing them so clever that the PCs can't win.

Doug M.

Grand Lodge

Agreed. It's an extremely delicate balance regarding these NPCs. Let's be honest. If the GM was running the NPCs as they should be, and not as how the plot says, the PCs wouldn't have even gotten out of jail with their lives, let alone attacked Balentyne. There's a fine line between the narrative and playing NPCs too intelligently.
Tacitus won't leave his tower, regardless of the situation. He has important research to do and believes himself to be omnipotent with his discovery. He'll just be on alert. Donnaghain wouldn't disagree with staying with the soldiers in the gatehouse. Havelyn would likely stick around with the other major NPCs and get ready for the return of the assassins taking everyone out.

As for the Hellknight initiation, give the PC a warning, but don't let on to the player that Thorn would likely give him a one-and-done resurrection should he fail. The character and player have to believe that they only get the one chance. If the player brings up whether he should get another PC ready, just tell him to wait and you'll discuss that should the time arise, and no sooner.


Thank you all for the suggestions. Thea idea that Thorn claims that he helped the PC is intriguing. Yeah, I'll have Tacitus stick to the tower and Donnaghain in the gatehouse.


Balentyne has fallen. Only a handful of defenders were left to fight the bugbears and they were swept away by the shaggy horde. Aldencross fell with barely a warning and most of the townsfolk were slaughtered.

The party managed to get to the inner keep by posing as relief guards after murdering all the sleeping guards in the barracks. Tacitus and his ice golem were a little surprise and they ate two fireballs, an ice storm and the golem explosion. Tacitus also cast stone skin which protected him from arrows quite well. The pcs cast silence and tried to keep him inside the area but to no avail. This prevented the party mage telling the archer to switch to admantium arrows. Finally they dropped the silence and the archer used his final round of bane with the admantium arrows to kill Tacitus just before he would unleash a fireball on the severely weakened PCs. They used a few rounds to move to Tacitus's lab and heal. Then fully buffed Havelyn showed up. The PCs won iniative and the mage used a scroll of create pit. I rolled 4 on Havelyns reflex save and in to the pit he went. He ranted impotently about honor and Mitra while the PCs filled him with arrows and he used his swift actions to lay on hands. Finally the pit dissipated and Havelyn was able to attack. I rolled 2 on his charge to hit and he nearly dropped the archer in one hit. Unfortunately the antipaladin then power attacked and dropped poor Havelyn. Rest of the garrison had retreated to the gatehouse and the top of the tower. Pcs ignored the top and after healing stormed the gatehouse while under heavy missile fire. The barred and locked door was bypassed eventually and father Donnagain and the last of the defenders were soon slain. The antipaladin resisted all of Donnagains spells and so he was eventually brought down.

It was not easy on the villains, Havelyns fall in to the pit probably saved at least two villains from death and Tacitus nearly wiped them all out.
We will switch to our Iron Gods campaign for a while and continue on the Way of the Wicked next year.


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As one of my players is interested in the Hellknights I inserted the bit about Brandescar being an old fort of the Order of the Brand Hellknights.
I took the few tidbits Gary gave and Kevin expanded on and came up with this:
This is all the knowledge that is left from before the Order was destroyed and disbanded.

Order of The Brand
Symbol: Flaming greatsword
Headquarters: Castle Branding
Leader: Lictor Sir Marek Barca
Members: Barcan nobility and their allies
Favored weapon: Greatsword or heavy mace
Disciplines: Brand, Command
Reckoning:Burn yourself over an open flame. Once per day as an immediate action, you can gain fire resistance 10 for 10 minutes. This does not stack with resist energy or any other abilities that provide fire resistance and overlaps with protection from energy.
Tenants:
I will support the rulers of the realm as long as they are worthy.
My fire will burn the unworthy who would oppose the rightful ruler.
There is no place for chaos in the realm. I will do my utmost to stamp it out.
Wilderness is chaos, civilization is order. Thus I will rid the world of threats to civilization and make it fit for the law to flourish.

The Order of the Brand was composed of mainly Barcan nobility and their allied houses. They supported the Barcan kings and fought against the "chaos" of the uncivilized north and Caer Bryr, believing that all of the island should be conquered for the kingdom of Talingarde.

If he succeeds in becoming a Hellknight and renews the Brand, how much is he able to change, should he want to? Tenants surely, but what about Reckoning and Disciplines?
Any suggestions about better fitting reckoning or disciplines? More tenants?

Grand Lodge

Looks good.

From tennants, you could probably borrow a few from the other Hellknight orders, especially Pyre. Just as an example, here are two from The Rack that would fit:
-Those who lack direction will find guidance by my hand--whether the palm or the fist.
-Though the flag of no nation has my alliance, every rebel is my foe.

As for the reckoning, it's pretty good as-is, as taken from the Pyre. If you think it should be more, maybe give a constant +1 or +2 bonus to saves against fire based spells, spell-likes, and supernatural abilities. Or perhaps a +4 bonus Intimidate to you show off your burn marks.

After that, I'd look at boons. Again, the Pyre ones fit perfectly considering it's Asmodeus vs. Mitra.

Each order has a set of magic items. A magic branding iron would fit perfectly for this particular order. Have it use hellfire so that it bypasses standard fire resistance, and make it a curse effect so the person can't immediately heal it away.

The Path of the Hellknight Campaign Setting is a great book to go through. I'd definitely recommend it if you don't already have it.

Grand Lodge

Just an idea, but for those who are looking to play vampire characters, regardless of the means, if you’re capable of wearing full plate it might be a good idea to consider the coffin plate. I know I’ll be designing a BBEG with this as his protection.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Is there any rhyme or reason to the point buys for the NPC's? I've been looking them over and they seem to run the gamut from 25 point buy to using the NPC array.
I mean Mathias Richter and Sir Balin use a 25 point buy, whereas Sergeant Blackerly uses a 20 point buy. White Tusk and Joseph-Calls-Fire-From-Water use a 15 point buy and Captain Sambryl a 10, and those are just the ones I've gone over.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I rebuilt pretty much every important npc so I did not check. However the pc's are not expected to be built on a standard point buy and I don't think important npc's are either.
For your examples only 2 of those are major opponents (you could argue that the Sergeant is as well but as he is likely to be fully equipped via badly equipped pcs he does not need much of an advantage) . I don't think it matters as long as they pose a reasonable threat to your pc's in a stand up fight. Although if your pc's are like mine treacherous murder s a more likely approach than a fair fight.

Grand Lodge

Vanulf Wulfson wrote:

Is there any rhyme or reason to the point buys for the NPC's? I've been looking them over and they seem to run the gamut from 25 point buy to using the NPC array.

I mean Mathias Richter and Sir Balin use a 25 point buy, whereas Sergeant Blackerly uses a 20 point buy. White Tusk and Joseph-Calls-Fire-From-Water use a 15 point buy and Captain Sambryl a 10, and those are just the ones I've gone over.

NPCs with actual class levels get 15 point buy and those with NPC class levels get 5. They also have to have a very specific amount of treasure/gear with them to equal their standard CR -1 or CR -2. If they have less or either, then the CR drops by an additional -1. The increase for each character's stats was supposed to be the offset for them not having a lot of gear for fear it'd mess up the wealth table. One of the GM hack rules from older D&D editions was you could give NPCs better stats in exchange for wealth. Need them to have 18 STR instead of 14? They miraculously drank a potion of bull's strength just before the battle. Reduce wealth by 300 gold. Even Paizo has it set up in their rules that an NPC with higher stats is supposed to have a +1 CR rating.

In the original AD&D modules and adventures, NPCs didn't have array stats. You rolled every encounter's stats. So you could face a boss with the equivalent of 15 point buy, but somehow have minions bordering on 30 and even 50 point buy. Gary's adventures appear to come across with that in mind, even if not fully intentional. But for the most part it's to offset the lack of wealth each NPC has, without lowering their CR rating.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
kevin_video wrote:
Just an idea, but for those who are looking to play vampire characters, regardless of the means, if you’re capable of wearing full plate it might be a good idea to consider the coffin plate. I know I’ll be designing a BBEG with this as his protection.

The best defense for a Vampire is the 'Blush of Youth' occult ritual from the villains codex it is truly evil but loses all the weakness of the undead while keeping the bonus's. My pc's swore by it , and all for the cheap price of the souls of dozens of children all purchased from Nocticula's realm as it was easier than farming children in Talingarde

Grand Lodge

JohnHawkins wrote:
kevin_video wrote:
Just an idea, but for those who are looking to play vampire characters, regardless of the means, if you’re capable of wearing full plate it might be a good idea to consider the coffin plate. I know I’ll be designing a BBEG with this as his protection.
The best defense for a Vampire is the 'Blush of Youth' occult ritual from the villains codex it is truly evil but loses all the weakness of the undead while keeping the bonus's. My pc's swore by it , and all for the cheap price of the souls of dozens of children all purchased from Nocticula's realm as it was easier than farming children in Talingarde

Interesting. I'll need to check that out.

EDIT: Looking it over, it doesn't seem that great. Only lasts 1 month/caster level of the person doing the ritual, costs 5000 gold per person, and the DCs for the skill checks are 33. That can't exactly happen that easily.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

When you are high level that is all chickenfeed. DC33 Skill checks were no great problem. To make things easier they produced a Headband of intelligence +6 which gave those three skills, and items which gave a competence bonus for each of the skills so no problems there . Total expenditure was about 50,000 up front , 20,000 every 16-20 months for the pc's. I think I was also charging 6,666 gp per month for the children and given the income from ruling Talingarde it was nothing before they took over Talingarde it was a one off ritual before they went after Thorne.
In return Not Bothered by Daylight, Positive energy (I did allow this to hurt them as they also retained undead healing from negative and that was pushing it), eternal beauty which in itself was worth it for them and all the benefits of the undead.

Grand Lodge

So, the question came up of how would a guildbreaker ranger came up. Figured Gary's original notion of worshippers, soldiers, etc. of the god would work. Kind of like how on the other side of things you could be a ranger with favored organization (Knots of Asmodeus) if you were able to learn about them in some way. Not quite sure exactly how it'd work for the player's side though.


Favored organization:
Knights of Alerion
Church of Mitra
Army of Talingarde
Order Of Macarius
Since most of the members of those organisations are human, I think Favored enemy human is better. Order of Macarius[?] has outsiders but they come up quite late and it is useless for 1st level PC to take on as Favored organization. Retraining should be made possible. Book 1 Army of Talingarde, Book 2 Church of Mitra, Book 3 Order of Macarius.
On the flipside:
[The name of the organization the PCs come up with in book 2]
Knots of Asmodeus, but only if the PCs have been careless and have made it known that something like this exists. Or maybe Elises band has been careless...
Anyway in Book 1 I think there is zero chance that anyone on the Team Mitra knows about the Knots.
Cults of Asmodeus might be okay but perhaps too general considering the flavor text of the class.


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Because I want abilities to be useful and also because I tend towards high powered games I would allow
Followers of Mithra
and
Followers of Asmodeus

Just to keep it simple the first would cover all Knights, Paladins, clerics who serve Mithra and the second would cover the pc's and their minions

Grand Lodge

Funny enough, I just found an old 3.5 ranger archetype for the elf that gives you favored enemy (servants of Lolth) and gave you a +3 to your numbers. Servants of Mitra at +2 seems more realistic now.


So I decided to start a online roll20 session with four people. Some changes to start, I'm having them stay at slow progression. (i did let them have three whole sets of stat rolls and keep the best)

I've done this once already, but one thing I noticed was when you get to the Bunyips, it talks about nonsense of CAPSIZING the boat.

I don't know exactly what FMG was on when they wrote this but let me tell you what it takes for a single creature to do this:

1st issue - they can't They don't even have the ability.

Capsize (Ex)
A creature with this special quality can attempt to capsize a boat or a ship by ramming it as a charge attack and making a combat maneuver check. The DC of this check is 25, or the result of the captain’s Profession (sailor) check, whichever is higher. For each size category the ship is larger than the creature attempting to capsize it, the creature attempting to capsize the ship takes a cumulative –10 penalty on its combat maneuver check.

Format: capsize; Location: special attacks.

Even if they did, you are expecting a medium creature to capsize a LONGSHIP. (I checked again, it's a longship)

So with a -40 to their check I'm sure that's a valid tactic. Screw. That.

I remade the Bunyips.

JUMPING BUNYIP

I would explain as slightly evolved. They have gotten so used to ships coming and going and catching whale hunters and such, that they have started to just jump up on board and try to bullrush people off the deck of ships. They of course will try and panic anyone to gain a slight advantage.

Anyway enjoy!

Grand Lodge

While it's true that they don't actually have the capsize ability, the only people in the longship are those not participating in the hunt. The way I read it, he only has the one ship. However, he mentions that everyone's in two boats. To me that always meant row boats or small rafts. Longships sink, and the crew needs to escape somehow. Unfortunately, Book 7 shows a picture of the longship, but no attached boats. Either Gary completely forgot and they're not there, or you do use rafts.


Yeah I think I imagined this seriously overweight longship, almost down to nearly 5ft above the water. Because it says you don't have rooms, everyone sleeps on the deck.

I dunno, I suppose rafts could work, but I already built the jumping bunyips and it might be a fun fight regardless. lol


I never thought about this, but has anyone allowed the players to have tiadora sell things they have gathered from the prison/lashtongue at that manor?


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I did, though Tiadora refused to be a pack mule. She would not haul packs full of armor around. She would get their easily carried stuff and buy some other easily carried stuff with that.


I guess that she can teleport 50 lbs. I will bring that up.


I did not tell the players exactly why (50 lb limit) she refused to haul heavy stuff, she was just her haughty, sneering self.
They are only now pretty sure she is some kind of devil in disguise, earlier they were convinced she was a vampire.

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