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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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

Fire Mountain Games wrote:

kevin_video,

No problem! Thanks for buying and help promote our book!

Gary McBride
Fire Mountain Games

Truth be told, the way I see it is that you're doing all the work here so it's only fair that I promote as best as I can at a convention. Everyone at some point has wanted to do an evil campaign, and Pathfinder's the most popular RPG at our convention, so I see it as a win/win for both of us.


Is now then yet? I haven't run the game yet, because I am currently running a Kingmaker chronicle and don't want to overload my players, but I am eagerly awaiting the "Dungeon Keeper" adventure path


DSRMT,

It's closer and closer, my friend. Last round of editing and layout is in progress.

Gary "Should Be Working on the Book" McBride
Fire Mountain Games


BAH!!! Can't wait any more!!!
...
...
...
...
Ok, I can wait a bit longer


DSRMT,

Your patience is appreciated. And trust me, I understand. No one wants this book out the door more than me.

And it's happening...real soon.

Gary McBride
Fire Mountain Games


Meh, my players are happy to wait. I've got them and Tiadora stopping off at various wee unsuspecting coastal villages for a spot of.... recreation....

:
http://www.google.ie/imgres?q=viking&hl=en&safe=off&client=fire fox-a&hs=TOh&sa=X&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&biw=1920&a mp;bih=965&tbm=isch&prmd=imvns&tbnid=4vsIIkopXjH_wM:&imgref url=http://warhammer40kfanon.wikia.com/wiki/Sons_of_Odin_%28Alternate_Chapt er%29&docid=rD7nAHzlBokwUM&imgurl=http://images.wikia.com/warhammer 40kfanon/images/6/64/Viking4.jpg&w=799&h=543&ei=aZE6T_ziD4-KhQf PpaiKCg&zoom=1&iact=hc&vpx=440&vpy=411&dur=1459&hov h=185&hovw=272&tx=123&ty=101&sig=106450309737641690162& page=2&tbnh=139&tbnw=184&start=56&ndsp=66&ved=1t:429,r: 2,s:56


heheh, whoops. I mucked that up!


Derfelcadarn wrote:
Meh, my players are happy to wait. I've got them and Tiadora stopping off at various wee unsuspecting coastal villages for a spot of.... recreation....

Wow. You know for someone who hasn't read the next book (because, we'll we just finished making it), you are doing a fine job of recreating Act One, Event One -- Tiadora's Pleasure Cruise.

You should have them end up in Farholde.

They'll love it there. Very scenic.

Gary McBride
Fire Mountain Games


1 person marked this as a favorite.

And Book Two is in the can.

Coming soon to a web site near you.

Onward to Book Three.

Gary McBride
Fire Mountain Games


Fire Mountain Games wrote:

And Book Two is in the can.

Coming soon to a web site near you.

Onward to Book Three.

Gary McBride
Fire Mountain Games

OH MY GOD!!!! *sits on Paizo website waiting*

Grand Lodge

That's excellent news.


DSRMT wrote:
OH MY GOD!!!! *sits on Paizo website waiting*

Whoa there. It'll be available in about a week, various minor deities permitting.

So, no need to wait on the web site...well, unless you just want to.

Gary "Is Off to ConDFW to promote Fire Mountain Games" McBride
Fire Mountain Games


Fire Mountain Games wrote:
DSRMT wrote:
OH MY GOD!!!! *sits on Paizo website waiting*

Whoa there. It'll be available in about a week, various minor deities permitting.

So, no need to wait on the web site...well, unless you just want to.

Gary "Is Off to ConDFW to promote Fire Mountain Games" McBride
Fire Mountain Games

... oh pooh *gets a fresh cup of pop and continues waiting*


Woohoo! Looking forward to part 2. Monday game update:

Spoiler:
Monday saw the group make a small amount of progress towards villiany. After leveling up and rather quickly signing the blood oath, they only made it through the first three rooms of the 9 Lessons and are already contemplating resting. I must say my group must be off lately, as the vampiric mist nearly PK'd the entire group (hence requiring rest). The modified brown mold nearly killed the rogue (partly due to "helpful" party members casting a fire spell at it while he was trying to back away). Delightful to see a group where no one bothered to take a rank in knowledge (dungeoneering).
Perhaps the most surprising thing was how quickly the villian group accepted the blood contract. I've run quite a few heroic games and even simple requests which are clearly beneficial to everyone and the greater good are scrutinized from every possible angle and every motive questioned. But the high priest of an evil diety says "Hey, want to join my group?" and the PC's respond, "Boy, do we. How fast can we do this?"


John Malueg wrote:

Woohoo! Looking forward to part 2. Monday game update:

** spoiler omitted **

Thanks for the awesome play report. Keep 'em coming!

Gary McBride
Fire Mountain Games


John Malueg wrote:

Woohoo! Looking forward to part 2. Monday game update:

** spoiler omitted **

.

Probably because
Spoiler:
Evil is usually less subtle about trying/wanting to screw you than Good.


2 people marked this as a favorite.

Evil (especially lawful evil) is often very honest with its underlings. "Do this or die." It can be very refreshing to have a master who doesn't mince words or try to couch mandatory missions in niceties and platitudes.

Gary McBride
Fire Mountain Games


I see the wisdom in your words. It probably came as a shock for me to have players I've gamed with weekly for over a decade for once quickly agree to something. Typically it takes quite a bit of persuasion on my part to get them to agree to anything an NPC asks. I might call them paranoid, they always seem expect the worst surprises from me. :)


Anyways, all that matters is that they signed the Pact of Thorns. Now you have them. :)

Looking forward to the next report,
Gary McBride
Fire Mountain Games

Grand Lodge

Saw that way of the wicked 2 was out and up on DriveThru. Got is wishlisted for the time being. Have to wait until next pay day to get it. Looking forward to reading what you've got planned for everyone this time around.


Kevin,

Yes, and now it is available on Paizo.com as well!

Thanks for your continuing support. I hope it lives up to your expectations. Personally, this is probably the book that I as a writer am the proudest of. Don't get me wrong, I love "Knot of Thorns". But when I hold these two books up side to side...wow, no comparison.

The print version is in the final approval process, so it should available in a week or so assuming everything goes well.

Thanks to everyone for continuing to walk the Way of the Wicked.

Gary McBride
Fire Mountain Games


Just a question I've been meaning to ask about the setting for some time now: is it a coincidence that the good-guy royal house is named "Darius", and the main good god whose puling worshippers you have to crush is named Mitra?

Mostly asking due to my interest in Ancient and Medieval Persian history and mythology. I how remember some scholars argue that the name Asmodeus comes from the Persian Aeshma Daeva, which means something like "God of Fury".

Also, if it were me, when and if I ever get to run this I'd probably go with the bad-guy royals as being something like the House of Astyages or House of Cambyses just to go for more of a retro-Persian feel.

Again, I love what I've seen of this. It's a great idea for a campaign.


One more rules-related question I forgot to ask: Is it okay to use the devilish material from the Council of Thieves AP (mostly the new devils in the Bestiary and the expanded information on the church of Asmodeus) in this AP? I'd love to see (or play) an Asmodean priest who specializes in summoning hellhounds and cerberi.


Eric Hinkle,

*DING* We have a winner. You, sir, are my kind of history/mythology nerd. Early on in the design process I went looking for a public domain good guy for Asmodeus to fight.

In sanskrit mitra means "friend". So effectively, you have the god of vengeance fighting the god of friendship.

The fact that Mitra appears in the writings of Robert E. Howard, my favorite fantasy author of all time and is the only consistently good deity of the Hyborian Age, only sealed the deal.

And who should serve Mitra but Darius, the first definitely Zoroastrian king of Persia? Darius is aa persian name that means "hold firm the good".

Perhaps it will not also surprise you that in book three...

Spoiler:
Mitra's greatest servant in the monastery of St. Macarius is an angel named Ara Mathra (Ahura Mahzda?)

Pseudo-Persian names were also great for elder, immortal beings because they give that weighty feel of antiquity. Also I resolved early not to name my angels -iel or -ael which I feel are done to death.

This is certianly not a Persian campaign in any way shape or form, but I often finding using a consistent base language to steal names from gives a location a greater sense of verisimilitude.

Anyways, it is cool that you noticed and I'm glad you're enjoying the campaign. The Way of the Wicked continues!

Gary McBride
Fire Mountain Games


Eric Hinkle wrote:
One more rules-related question I forgot to ask: Is it okay to use the devilish material from the Council of Thieves AP (mostly the new devils in the Bestiary and the expanded information on the church of Asmodeus) in this AP? I'd love to see (or play) an Asmodean priest who specializes in summoning hellhounds and cerberi.

I think all of this is great stuff to use.

Anything that involves the phrase 'Asmodean priest' is right up this adventure path's alley.

Gary


Fire Mountain Games wrote:

Eric Hinkle,

*DING* We have a winner. You, sir, are my kind of history/mythology nerd. Early on in the design process I went looking for a public domain good guy for Asmodeus to fight.

In sanskrit mitra means "friend". So effectively, you have the god of vengeance fighting the god of friendship.

So, we'll be fighting My Little Ponies? XD But thanks for the verification, I thought I recognized many of these names.

Fire Mountain Games wrote:


The fact that Mitra appears in the writings of Robert E. Howard, my favorite fantasy author of all time and is the only consistently good deity of the Hyborian Age, only sealed the deal.

And who should serve Mitra but Darius, the first definitely Zoroastrian king of Persia? Darius is aa persian name that means "hold firm the good".

Perhaps it will not also surprise you that in book three...

** spoiler omitted **

Hah! No surprise at all there.

Fire Mountain Games wrote:


Pseudo-Persian names were also great for elder, immortal beings because they give that weighty feel of antiquity. Also I resolved early not to name my angels -iel or -ael which I feel are done to death.

This is certianly not a Persian campaign in any way shape or form, but I often finding using a consistent base language to steal names from gives a location a greater sense of verisimilitude.

Yes, I feel the same way about fantasy fiction. It bugs me a little to see fantasy cultures in which the names seem arbitrarily swiped from a dozen different cultures with no justification whatever.


Eric,

Do...

Spoiler:
squads of aasimar paladins on half-celestial griffons

...count as MLP?

I just finished writing them up for Book Three.

Gary McBride
Fire Mountain Games
"Build a man a fire, and he'll be warm for a day. Set a man on fire, and he'll be warm for the rest of his life." -- Terry Pratchett


speaking of gamestorm we have 34 tables set up over the 4 days for pfs play plus a crossover with DragonDyne's Neverwhen, another pathfinder compatable system. Come see us and maybe drop in for a game


Gamestorm is a good time! If you live anywhere in the Pacific Northwest, this is the year to go to Gamestorm. Jason Buhlman is the guest of honor. The Pathfinder Society is there in strength as Todd notes. And Fire Mountain Games will have a booth in the dealer's room.

And we will be running demos of "Way of the Wicked" all weekend long.

This year at Gamestorm it would be a breeze to have all Pathfinder all the time.

And if you do attend, be sure to stop by the booth and say 'hi'!

Gary McBride
Fire Mountain Games


Reviewed here, on DTRPG, on RPGaggression and sent to GMS magazine. Cheers!

(I hope I'll be able to read Book II this week...it's on my pile!)


Endzeitgeist wrote:

Reviewed here, on DTRPG, on RPGaggression and sent to GMS magazine. Cheers!

(I hope I'll be able to read Book II this week...it's on my pile!)

Wow. I am overwhelmed by your review.

If you are at Paizo Con this year, I owe you the drink of your choice.

Thanks for taking the time to review "Way of the Wicked".

More is on the way.

Gary McBride
Fire Mountain Games


kevin_video wrote:

We're about ready to do our game. Just need to finish with the character creation part. So far, this is what we've got...

A LE kitsune ninja that's guilty of attempted murder.

You mean I'm not the only person who wants to run at least one kitsune through this campaign? Good luck to the character! May Talingarde burn from their foxy wiles.


I just finished the first session! We got character creation done and I threw them into prison.

Spoiler:
They introduced themselves, met Tiadora, befriended Grumblejack, and got out of their cells. A guard got suspicious and came to check them out, but they were ready for him. The anti-paladin of Zon-Kuthon got in some good hits and the knife master rogue finished him off. They did well tonight, but I'm curious to see how well they get out of Branderscar's walls. Should be fun!


If I finally get to the US this year, I'll be sure to attend Paizocon, but right now, I'm not sure whether that'll work out.

Any ways - Great work and thanks for the kind words!


OmegaZ,

Thanks for the summation! Sounds like fun. I look forward to future entries,

Gary McBride
Fire Mountain Games


Visually, this is the MOST impressive module I have ever seen. It is of core rulebook quality. Just stellar!


HolmesandWatson,

Thanks for the kind words. Glad you enjoyed the adventure.

So, other than visually, what did you think of the content?

Gary McBride
Fire Mountain Games


This is based on the 36 page free preview, which I checked out because of the strong reviews and commentary about the first module.

I think you have a strong product that you polished before publishing. It doesn't at all come across as 'rushed to get out the door,' which isn't always the case with smaller operations like Fire Mountain Games.


Finished my first session the other night. Sadly, right after they freed Grumblejack, they sent him forward to fight on his own. A lucky trip by the guard dog spelt his downfall, the the cleric refused to heal a "useless creature" so they left him behind. Kinda sad, was so looking forward to realising his full potential


Poor Grumblejack. Oh, well. They'll have to find themselves some other minions. I wouldn't be too broken up...

Spoiler:

Grumblejack is far from a major player in the campaign. He has his bit in the prison and of course his moment of potential glory in book 2. Other than that, he is little mentioned in the books.

In Book Three, they can recruit an ogre mage and a fiendish medusa to work for them.

In Book Four, they can get their own black dragon to ride upon.

And in Book Six, well, two words ... pit fiend.

Enough said.

Gary McBride
Fire Mountain Games


Well that sounds fair and reasonable...

Spoiler:
PIT FIEND???
Must have book... All of the!

But you are of course right, I just grew too attached to the poor lug before I started the game, lol


There should probably have been a spoiler tag somewhere in there. Oh, well.

Glad to hear your enthusiastic, DSRMT. More is definitely on the way.

Gary McBride
Fire Mountain Games


2 people marked this as a favorite.

Sigh, such a pity to read of poor Grumblejack's ignominous end. Pity too; just how often does one find an ogre-sized meat shield/legbreaker that has more personality than "Me ogre, me kill"?


Apologies for a belated update.

Spoiler:
The PC's completed their nine lessons. I was having a hot night rolling as GM, so it was a rough night for my PC's. The mithral cobras put the monk down when he botched an acrobatics check to move into the room past the cobras as they flanked the door. They also nearly missed getting info out of Timeon, although they did at least decide to take him as a hostage (unknowlingly so on his part, the oracle has taken to using his iron circlet to alter the appearance of his holy symbol of Asmodeus to that of Mitra). The draugr also put up a nice fight. The look on the witch and oracle's face when burning hands failed was great. The final battle with Sir Balin was also great. Had it gone another round Balin likely would have put two characters down, the oracle and the fighter, making the fight a good deal more difficult, but the oracle got a lucky shot in.

So far we are two events into Act III. The PC's spotted the patrol boat with 10 minutes to prepare. They spent most of that time coming up with various plans and shooting them down. The witch took the appearance of Timeon (for some reason my PC's kept thinking he was someone of high repute), planning to sell a story of being undercover agents. By the time any of this was remotely close to being sorted out, the patrol boat was already alongside. The battle was relatively quick, and sounds of a demon on deck. The battle with the tritons was a rather difficult one for the PC's, but the monk came through in the end, tying up the triton oracle with a grapple, keeping him from making use of his spells.

Also, picked up Book 2 for Way of the Wicked. Looks freaking great!

PS: My PC's asked me to pass on that they really enjoy the boxed text in the module, which is a compliment coming from two decade veteran rpg'ers.


John,

No need to apologize. Thanks for the taking the time for the updates!

The session sounds great! And relate to your PCs that this writer greatly appreciates their kudos.

Thanks for supporting "Way of the Wicked" and keep up the posts.

Gary McBride
Fire Mountain Games

Scarab Sages

Please create a PDF player's guide with traits, advice for players, spoiler less gazetteer and what not! :D


2 people marked this as a favorite.

DragonBelow,

A Player's Guide is definitely on our radar and, though I cannot yet announce a date, it will be coming before the adventure path's end.

Gary McBride
Fire Mountain Games


Something else I noticed in the first book.

At one point after they break out of Branderscar and before they get into any more trouble, the PCs might ask Tiadora who she is and she says

Spoiler:
I'm a devil and I'm here to do the devil's work

Am I wrong, or was that one of the last things heard by one of the victims in the Manson murders? I'm sure I read that remark in a book about them.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Eric,

Yes indeed. Tiadora answers with a paraphrase of the phrase delivered by Charles "Tex" Watson, one of the members of Manson's infamous Family.

The actual quote is: "I am the devil, and I here to do the devil's business." It is often misattibuted to Manson himself.

Gary

Silver Crusade

Spoilers contained below.

And our first PC death...:

Three of the 5 PCs were lying in wait at the Mott's house, planning on framing one of the other captains. They had already dealt with Mott's wife, and were waiting in the bedroom (Elf Zen Archer Monk, Human 4 winds Monk, Halfling Rogue). The rogue was under the sheet next to Mott's wife's corpse. I had it so that when Mott came home, he took his armor off before entering the bedroom, but I figured a military man could be paranoid enough to sleep with his weapon nearby. So the encounter was against a naked Captain Mott with his Halberd.

They get their round of attacks off after Mott pulls off the sheet, with the halfling exclaiming "Eddarly's sleeping with your wife!". The scene was great, everyone had a blast.

After the surprise round, Mott had initiative. His rolls (before modifiers), on the halfing with full Power Attack, were 19, 20, then a 19 to confirm the crit. Total damage: 76 points. The halfling had been bragging as he had rolled max HP at EVERY LEVEL before this. So his 40hp (level 4 at the time) and 14 con did nothing to save him.

And that was how our first PC died.

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