Way of the Wicked—Book #3: Tears of the Blessed (PFRPG) PDF

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Lead an Army of Darkness into Battle!

Inside the Vale of Valtaerna is found the most sacred site to the benevolent god Mitra in all of Talingarde. From this holy site, your enemies draw power and comfort. This is the story of how you raised an army of wickedness and stormed that stronghold of light slaughtering all who stood in your way!

No longer are you a petty servant of darkness. Here is your chance to become a master of evil. But beware! This will not be easy. There are more than just priests in the vale. This is the lair of countless good celestials who will do all in their power to stop your rise. Can you defeat them? Will you be destroyed or will you emerge triumphant amidst the tears of the blessed?

Welcome to the third chapter of the “Way of the Wicked”—the only evil adventure path for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game!

Inside you’ll find:

  • “Tears of the Blessed,” an adventure compatible with the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game for 10th-level villains by Gary McBride
  • Full color art and maps by Michael Clarke
  • A gazetteer of the city of Ghastenhall
  • Detailed information about the Church of Mitra, your most determined foes.
  • All you need to run a vicious narrative battle with your PCs in command.
  • 102 pages of full color!
  • And More!

Raise your army, dark lord, and march to war. There will be no one to stop you this time!

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****½ (based on 7 ratings)

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Clerics, Angels and Phoenix, oh my

*****

Your horrid villains are tasked with sacking a wintered-in valley of nauseatingly Lawful Good types. Recruit foot soldiers, bust the gate open and sack the place!

This chapter continues to demonstrate the villainous virtues of infiltration, sabotage, skulduggery and raw Evil firepower. The big nasties are all challenging icons of Things that are Good. Some groups will mop the floor with their foes, others will have a more difficult time.

As is the established pattern in earlier chapters, the villains can nova some encounters while carefully husbanding resources in other parts.

Plan carefully Ladies and Lords for failure to pay attention may send your damned souls to Hell far earlier than you wish...


Tears of the Blessed Review

****( )

Warning: Potential spoilers. Written from a GM's perspective. I ran this for 6 PCs.

In the third installment of the Way of the Wicked, the players are given the task of recruiting and army to sack the holy city of Valtaerna. Having played through this book, I must continue to give my compliments to creators. The world and the story is still holding the players attention and offering them creative ways to play their dark lords.

A particularly excellent part of this book was the appropriately epic Battle for Valtaerna. While this long fight spanned at least two full sessions and used almost every resource the party had, it never became tedious or felt like the players were just going through the motions.

However, if I had a criticism of this chapter of Way of the Wicked, it would be that the excitement is a little bit frontloaded. The Big Battle, while excellent, happens fairly early in the book. There is also the matter of a the Phoenix, who is fought relatively early in the book, but is actually a far more dangerous and memorable than the final boss.

Two words of caution to GM planning to run Tears of the Blessed:
1. Be careful with the Phoenix. My players were not well prepared heading in to that fight. Thankfully they had Protection From Energy or we may have had a TPK. However, our party mage had too few non-fire spells and the martial characters didn't have a way of getting through the Phoenix's DR 15/Evil. With the Phoenix's healing capabilities, the fight ended up being a slog where they could barely do more damage than the Phoenix could heal in a round.
2. Be careful with Holy Word. While, most encounters in the latter half of the book have access to this devastating spell, I highly suggest limiting your usage of it. This is a really powerful spell, that does a great job incapacitating players and making the encounter feel dangerous. Unfortunately, when you are a player, being incapacitated isn't very fun. Not only will your players hate it, but they will actively prepare ways to counter it. Considering that Holy Word is probably the best tactic of an otherwise rather weak final boss, you really don't want to wear it out.

However, minor complaints and warnings aside, I would still highly recommend this book. It runs far quicker and easier than Call Forth Darkness and maintains the series excellent quality in story and characters.


*****

I've reviewed this on RPGGeek.com.

You can read it here.


***( )( )

Tears of the Blessed is a very cool concept module with a lot of neat flavor. The book itself is written with style and the general outline of the adventure itself is very promising. Here's my review:

1. Mechanics
While the fluff and circumstance in the module is fantastic at times (and drudging at others) it suffers from a lot of fidgety mechanics issues that belie a fair bit of annoyance.
A lot of the stat blocks in Way of the Wicked are streamlined. These are made for best use, which is, in thought, very kind, but in practice for the experienced DM very agitating. Baking power attack into most enemies attack rolls seems smart until they're also baking abilities in as well, making unraveling bonuses difficult. Some creatures have deflection against evil opponents in their stat blocks, making their CMD and AC jump up from what's written down. If you have a neutral character in the party, they're very powerful in this module.
Many opponents are not as dangerous as their CR entails. This leads to a kind of boredom syndrome-- a lot of battles are versus foes who, in writing, are CR 10, but in longevity are not-- AC tends to teeter around 20, and attack rolls around +13. Many battles are the opposite-- the creatures aren't very dangerous, but are extremely long-lived. Later on in the Vale itself, DR 5-15/evil is on every single monster you encounter until you begin to encounter incorporeal foes. From the middle of the Battle of Saintsbridge, almost every single foe you face has spell resistance. That is immensely painful. Many encounters are able to cast holy word, which is very punishing to melee. Many encounters are layered in personal or group protection from evil effects, making almost all mind-affecting abilities wasted. Protective aura is unbelievably irritating. Many encounters are slogs that the NPCs can never be victorious in, making the entire conflict unnecessary. A lot of encounters are just soldiers, or later, angelic soldiers, throwing themselves at you to die with little fanfare. Not a lot of encounters enhance the mood-- they just serve as filler.
The humdrum is broken up by several lynchpin encounters that are both exciting, interesting and incredibly iconic. Suchandra the Phoenix is an extremely worthy foe, as is The-Flame-That-Sings. Ara Mathra and She-Forever-Silent are intimidating, as are Taranea and the ghostly paladins (though three encounters of three is far too much in my opinion). These encounters are not only interesting, but some of the only encounters that are plot-worthy (see below).
As a warning, The-Flame-That-Sings is a full-on TPK encounter if your group does not have protection from energy and resist energy. By the time the group killed The-Flame and Suchandra got busy, everyone but the wizard was out of their 120 fire absorption and almost all of them but the monk and bard were on fire. In an adventure that is all-but guaranteed to have an evil-aligned cleric, this can be very devastating.

2. Impetus
In this book, the PCs finish their quest from the last adventure and then are thrust into the next. This has the same kind of problem as the first two books: Cardinal Thorn says jump, so you jump, get tortured and jump minus a stat point, or the book permanently kills you. Not a lot of illusion of choice. You must meet with Sakkarot, that scenario is successful if the PCs try at all, you must go into the Vale, you must douse the three flames, you must kill everyone there, you must slay Ara Mathra. The PCs wants or character motivations don't come into it. There aren't any compelling characters to want to work for, like in other modules (unless you're still riding on the fumes of Thorn from book 1) or people who need saving. It's the opposite-- your character sees there are people who need killing and goes to kill them for the sake of killing. There's no characters to really hate or want to kill, either. Unlike the other books, evil doesn't turn on evil, nor is good annoying, self-righteous or antagonistic. It makes the module extremely bleak. You go around killing great people who don't deserve it and who can't fight back... for fun.

3. Plot
The plot is that the PCs go to a place that is good and nice, kill everyone there and then kill the angels there because their boss said so. There's really nothing beyond that besides plot seeds for the next books. An interesting character is introduced-- Dessiter-- and then disappears. None of the antagonists are really fleshed out beyond the room they're in, and thusly feel very flat. Many, despite there being a huge amount of reasons for them to, do not leave their encounter rooms. My favorite is Taranea-- a CG azata-- who follows orders to not intervene in the Battle of Saintsbridge until the PCs are (presumably) high enough level to fight her. An elementally chaotic creature and elementally good creature not only follows orders but lets people die because of them.
You spend almost the entire module knowing about Ara Mathra but he never interacts with the party-- not even a word from the sky, a showing, an angry prophecy. Strangely, the party is on a timer-- the leader of the Vale is summoning an army of ghostly paladins to fight the PCs-- but the PCs don't know it, so they kind of lackidaisically take their time through the module without much urgency.

Still not liking some of the organization, and definitely disliking many parts-- To enter 2-9, you must go through 2-9a, which is detailed after the contents of 2-9-- a half-page of exposition. Stat blocks still break the page. Maps are square with almost no exception, making drawing them uninspiring.

3 stars simply for the concept alone, though the execution was lacking. This module is, despite everything I just said, still worth a read. Really don't miss it-- it has some of the coolest ideas, scenarios, areas, monsters and concepts in it, surrounded by a lot of hit-or-miss basic D&D setpieces (mass combat) that the module could have abandoned without losing anything.


And the Heavens will weep

*****

This one will have to be short. Suffice to say that in this one, after your villains got the Tears of Achlys at the climax of the last adventure, they first get some downtime (and plenty of side quests to get into trouble and grab some loot), and then they get their next assignment. Simply stated, destroy the most sacred and well-protected temple in the kingdom and defile it past any use. Oh, and no survivors.

You get all the easy jobs.

Anyway, there's considerable role-playing in here as you recruit allies, some of them characters you met before. You'll also meet a devil who's taken a close interest in your careers, which can lead to even further trouble. Not to mention enough battle and mayhem to satisfy the most bloody-minded player as you smash your way into the Vale of Valtaerna, going through everything from warriors to fanatic good clerics to celestials until you (hopefully) achieve victory. And after that you'll find yourself dealing with some very powerful good beings in the Vale -- you'll need sharp wits as well as ready blades to deal with them unless you want to be overwhelmed.

And then the REAL difficulty begins when you enter the Temple of Saint Macarius, deal with the opposition you find there, maybe find some very useful treasures, and finally confront the true master of the temple and leader of your foes. And you WILL need to be both fortunate AND tough to beat Ara Mathra!

It's rounded out with a Gazetteer of the city of Ghastenhall as well as a guide to the religion of Mitra, the Triune God, that should be very helpful for DMs (and maybe players in a more conventional campaign).

There are a few typos here and there, but this is every bit as amazing as the prior adventures in the series. Five stars!


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Grand Lodge

To be honest, until Doug brought it up, I hadn't thought about it like that. Granted I knew the celestials and them couldn't teleport away, but other things I could see.

When the game's done being made, Gary, maybe a web enhancement or two like what you've put on here explaining everything wouldn't be a bad idea. And it'd get traffic coming to your site as well.


So I've picked up all three of these so far and my group is super psyched to play after my homebrew. However I cannot find errata for this yet is there any since people are finding mistakes?


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

I've picked up all three of these so far, and it took my group about an hour to go from "first hearing about it" to "demanding that we play it immediately." So now it's our backup campaign, and in fact I'll be running the first session next week. We play online using a virtual tabletop program, so from a purely technical stance I deeply appreciate the quality of presentation (color art and maps mean a LOT to me as a GM).

However, if there was just one change I could ask for, it would be the inclusion of unlabeled maps in the PDFs. HUGE timesaver for GMs like me!


On Doug's comments,

Spoiler:
Good criticisms. I can see where they're coming from, and I think a number of them come from the answers not being clarified or overly highlighted in the text (I admit that it took until I sat down and really read the issue thoroughly to see just why the angels don't teleport though it is explained a few times). But as Gary said, they were already running way over their word count.

-Personally, I think that ordering the deaths of the citizens of Sanctum after they beg for the lives of the women and children may be a step too far for my group. But that's my group. What I think would be easier for them to deal with would be if Sanctum (and the Vale) was a town of pilgrims who come and serve, and that there are very, very few if any children.

At the same time, I have time to ponder that one, so I think I'll wait until I see the consequences of letting word get out.

-The reason for secrecy has been mentioned in the adventure path though. It's mentioned when Thorn's plan is explained. Why he's using the bugbears as patsies and how he intends to use that secrecy to his advantage in the end game. It's the last too paragraphs on Page 5 of Book 1.

Gary mentioned why people might not have used Commune to figure things out, but I'd also point out that if it was that easy to get the answers then no one would ever need to hire PCs to go see what's going on with Crisis X. The article on the faith of Mitra also mentions that the upper level of the faith (those likely to be looking into these things) aren't really spellcasters and hold a bit of prejudice towards them. The only people who could cast Commune could be far away and dealing with other duties and have no reason to suspect Asmodeans as being involved in everything. What happened with the Horde isn't obviously connected to the Horn after all.

Even if Sir Richard spills the beans there is the problem of what the Church will do. The article on Mitra shows that not everyone in the Church of Mitra was completely comfortable with the results of the earlier purge and they may be reluctant to announce it because of the effect that it will have on the Inquisition. The last thing they need, especially after losing the Vale is to have the Inquisition start another round of torture and burnings at a time when people are already going to be having a crisis of faith.

They don't know the full extent of the problem. The first purge was to get rid of a well rooted faith. But is the involvement of Asmodeans in the war and other problems proof of a cult that has become pervasive throughout Talingarde, or is it just a small group without real support in the population. If the Church and State start saying that this is all the Asmodean's fault, the Inquisition will begin it's work again, which means lots and lots and LOTS of innocents suffering. It's even possible that someone has cast Commune on this point and informed the higher ups.

The Mitrans need to keep a strong front in order to keep the people from letting fear make them desperate enough to seek out other, half-remembered Gods. A year of war with defeat after defeat, combined with the destruction of the Vale makes Mitra and his Church look weak. Turning the Inquisition loose at that point would probably drive more people to look to other Gods for protection and aid, since the weak God they have supported (despite one purge) has turned on them yet when they need them most.

So, it can be seen as a "damned if we do, damned if we don't" kind of situation. Thorn wins either way, but he's likely to have an easier time getting converts to Asmodeus if the people don't readily connect The Dark Prince to anything but rumors.

-Dessiter knowing what the PCs look like probably comes from keeping an eye on Thorn and his Knots, or most likely just watching Tiadora. He's aware that Asmodeus has his eye on one of the Knots and could very well be watching her movements to figure out which one. He does arrive right after she leaves when the PCs meet him.

TL;DR - Reasons and thoughts


Randomdonkey,

If you find any errata, please send it to me at gary|at|firemountaingames|dot|com or post it here.

So far I've only done one errata release by updating "Knot of Thorns" but I'm planning to do another to all three of the books this month.

The files will simply update and can be downloaded again. But I'll be sure to post a note on this forum.

Gary McBride
Fire Mountain Games


John,

We hear you. A map pack is almost certainly something that is coming. But I'm not ready to make any concrete announcements yet.

Gary McBride
Fire Mountain Games

Dark Archive

What should happen if the PC's fail at a certain part that carries over. My group routinely misses the tiniest bit of important information. Currently they think they need to sacrifice two Mitrans instead of a Son and a Mitran. How would the adventure change if they end up losing the Horn? I'm particularly worried about the inquisitor and treant/lillend. Instead of killing the tree they did everything they could to duck and dodge him.


I'm about to get swamped in work, so may be offline for the next little bit. But I want to respond to Gary's (thoughtful, well reasoned) reply.

Spoiler:

Fire Mountain Games wrote:

Secrecy is not important. Everyone will soon know about the slaughter at Valtaerna. What is important to keep secret is that Asmodeans are behind it. Yes, the higher ups have already figured this out, intuitively if nothing else. The King as much as says so in the little scene at the end of the adventure. We suggest a "let's hunt Asmodeans" craze in Ghastenhall started by the duke. And so forth.

But the people -- the common clay -- they aren't so sure. The Darian regime has always been quick to blame Asmodeus for every trouble (see the Asmodean purges of Markadian IV) but where's the proof? The real villain that everyone knows about is Sakkarot Fire-Axe.

The Fire-Axe has already done what no bugbear has ever done. He's sacked two fortresses of the Watch Wall, raids unopposed in the north and even threatens the third largest city in Talingarde. The fact that the Fire-Axe was clever enough to strike against and destroy Valtaerna... I think the people of Talingarde will buy that.

This plot point is important in Book VI when an army of Asmodeans "saves" Talingarde from the Fire-Axe and wins the hearts and minds of the people. That is why Thorn wants to keep evidence of their involvement to a minimum. Who cares what a paladin, king or priests of Mitra think. Of course they think Asmodeus is behind it. They think Asmodeus is behind everything. Hopefully soon, they'll all be dead. Thorn is concerned with the common people.

For me at least, this moves the whole "bugbears did it" plotline from an F to a C. It still seems like a stretch, but now it's just over the Willing Suspension of Disbelief line.

The thing is, this doesn't appear in the text. The "backstab the bugbears" part of it appeared back in Book 1, as Tobias correctly pointed out. But the idea that Thorn doesn't care who knows, as long as the common people are still confused... no, that's not made clear.

Looking at that quote above, it's 250 words. It could easily be boiled down to half, maybe a third of that. Tastes vary, to be sure, but I would much rather have had a paragraph strengthening the backstory than a paragraph of Ghastenhall. Not that there was anything wrong with Ghastenhall, but Ghastenhall seems a lot less mission-critical. Any competent DM can rub the serial numbers off Korvosa or Absalom or Waterdeep. There are dozens if not hundreds of fantasy towns and cities out there. But there is, so far, only one all-evil AP. Focus on making your evil plot shine!

The betrayal of the bigbears feeds right into this: not only is it a key plot point, it's something that /could not be done in a standard good-aligned campaign/. The PCs are going to help Thorn lead Fire-Axe along, they're going to accept his help, they're going to be allies and even friends with him... and then they're going to betray and kill him. That's great stuff, and it leads to all sorts of opportunities for interesting role-playing. Focusing on things like that gives more value than a paragraph about Weatherby, a suburb of Ghastenhall (though I'm sure it's a fascinating place).

Anyway. As to the celestials: teleport at will means you can blip out for a single rounds, appear in the King's throne room crying "Danger! Evil threatens Mitra's holiest shrine! The bugbears have broken through the gates!" and then blip back again. You can argue with a straight face that the peri and Ara Mathra are bound to stay, but that still leaves the shield and legion archons. Or someone could send one of the ki-rin (fly 120', all day long). Or Ara Mathra could use whatever means he used to contact the storm giant. Or... well, I don't want to nit-pick. It's a good adventure! I do think that keeping lawful good creatures as a set of isolated encounters is harder, because they'll naturally tend to cooperate work together, so Gary was facing an uphill challenge here.

Finally: given the page limitations, maybe a web enhancement is a good idea. Of course, it's time that you don't get paid for, which places pretty clear limits on it. But if you're running over again -- well, it would seem to make sense. And web enhancements do bring people to the website, where (hopefully) they'll be able to find ever more Fire Mountain products to buy.

cheers,

Doug M.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
Douglas Muir 406 wrote:


I'm about to get swamped in work, so may be offline for the next little bit. But I want to respond to Gary's (thoughtful, well reasoned) reply.

** spoiler omitted **...

Spoiler:
The Fire-Axe is an Asmodean, and the only one in his knot that knows the real goal, so he is aware that the bugbears are going to be destroyed. It's not necessari to the plot to betray him.
Grand Lodge

@Douglas Muir 406: With regards to teleport you could argue that their caster level isn't high enough to get to the location they need to, or that they've never been to any other location on the continent and aren't familiar with bouncing around. They may never have been outside the city and don't know where they could go for help.


kevin_video, maybe! I like the module well enough that I'm willing to handwave it.

Doug M.


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Meanwhile, apropos of a visiting ranger: here's a brief sketch of a possible encounter to add as a break between duking it out with angels and whatnot.

Kly the Mail is a ranger who has been carrying mail over the frozen passes every Midwinter for years now. Everyone knows about him -- Kly is the only contact that Sanctum has with the outside world for three months. His arrival is always cause for a celebration; he usually stays a few days, collects the return mail, and then heads back over the pass.

Kly is an elderly human who is really getting too old for this, but he's stubborn and determined to keep it up until his old bones finally fail. Give him the Elderly template (-3 to Str, Dex and Con, +2 to Int, Wis and Cha). He's a 9th level ranger / 1st level Arcane Archer; his favored terrain is Cold, and he's followed the Archery combat style. Favored enemy, season to taste, but if he can match one of the PCs or their allies, go for it. He's Chaotic Good, and holds no brief for the Church of Mitra -- they're rather too controlling and stuffy for his tastes -- but he has many friends among the good people of Sanctum.

Kly usually travels alone, but this time he's come with a companion: a half-elven druid named Distra, a friend of his youth. Distra is trying to persuade him to train a replacement and retire. She knows this will take years, so she's coming along to get an idea of how hard the trip is. Distra is a 10th level druid who is just hitting middle age (which actually makes her a bit more dangerous). She has an animal companion, a snow leopard.

Whether this is an easy encounter for the PCs or a tricky one will depend on what preparations they have made.

Spoiler:

-- Nobody is going to mention Kly, even under torture, unles specifically asked; many people won't think of him, and others will conceal him as a last best hope. The only way the PCs will find out about him is if they ask the right questions -- "dDoes anyone get in during winter," "Is there any way of communicating with the outside world once the passes are closed," etc. If the PCs announce that they are searching through the garrison's papers, give them a DC 30 Perception check to notice that the commander's file of correspondence stops for three months per year -- except that a few letters from the capital appear every year just before Midwinter.

-- If the PCs have bugbear scouts out, they have a chance to spot Kly and Distra. They won't be stealthy, and bugbears have respectable Pereption (+8) so very likely they'll be spotted. It then becomes a question of whether the bugbears can slip away without being noticed themselves -- they have +10 Stealth, but Kly's Perception in a wintertime forest is something like +16. If the bugbears are spotted, Kly and Distra should have little difficulty killing them. They'll reasonably assume that the creatures are scouts from the Fire-Axe's army, and will continue on their way; the only warning the PCs will get is when a patrol is a couple of hours late.

-- If the PCs are aware of Kly, they should have little trouble setting an ambush -- normally he snowshoes right up to the gate of the garrison. Even if the PCs don't know he's coming, he may come within hailing range before realizing anything is wrong. He's familiar with the garrison, though, and has a good Perception, so it's very likely he'll spot that something is wrong before knocking on the door. The details will depend sensitively on whether the PCs still have guards there, how watchful they are, etc. If attacked, he will try to escape. If he does, he'll take a day to circle around through the mountains and will then enter the valley from another direction entirely, several miles from the garrison.

-- Once Kly and Distra realize something is wrong, they will want to explore the valley. Kly will be overwrought with grief at the deaths of many of his friends; Distra, a cooler head, will want to reconnoiter, find out exactly what has happened, and get the news back to civilization. If there are still survivors, Kly will want to contact them and attempt a rescue, while Distra will try to persuade him against it. Either way, the two will scout the valley for 2-5 days and then head home. If there are no survivors, Kly will want to massacre some bugbears, or possibly ambush a lone PC or high-level NPC if he can manage it.

-- Catching the two is best done in or around Sanctum. If they escape into the surrounding forest, the PCs have a problem -- both can move fast over snow, and Kly has very high Stealth. If found and attacked with overwhelming force (i.e., the whole PC party), Kly and the snow leopard will make a last stand while Distra takes on whatever is her fastest flying shape (probably an air elemental) and runs for it. Kly will concentrate fire on anyone who is pursuing her; he should have the long range feat and at least one Arrow of Slaying, just so the PCs don't ignore him.

If the PCs have nothing fast enough to catch Distra, then the game is blow. (But hey -- at least they know it). If they do catch her, and she's losing a fight, her last trick is to cast Quickened Obscuring Mist, drop like a stone into the forest below, and then Wild Shape into a pine tree. The PCs can then have fun trying to figure out which one of 50 or so identical trees she might be. (Of course, cutting or burning them all works.)

Killing Kly will cast any survivors into utter despair. It will also impress hell out of the bugbears -- a generation or so back, he worked the North, and killed dozens of them.

Okay, really do need to work now.

cheers,

Doug M.

Grand Lodge

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That's great except for one small key thing. Arcane Archer requires you to be able to cast 1st level arcane spells. Rangers can't do that. I'd actually consider making the Kly a ranger 8/horizon walker 2 instead. This way he can get terrain mastery (Cold: cold resistance 10). This makes more sense for how he's able to accept the cold as easily as he does. I'd also just make him old. Elderly makes him around 70 years old. The Old template is just -2 and +2 respectfully, instead of -3, but he's in his mid-fifties to sixties. This still works because the half-elf would be around 62 years old.

Other than that, love what I'm seeing.


Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

My review has been posted here and at RPGNow.


Shane,

Thanks for the review and the kind words!

Gary McBride
Fire Mountain Games


D'oh, ranger spells aren't arcane. Right, my bad.

I picked AA for flavor, and to give his archery an extra bit of sting. But you're right -- horizon walker works just as well, maybe better.

For bonus fun, say that the druid has put one of the snow leopard's ability score increases on Int. This gives it a 3 Int -- capable of understanding simple speech and instructions. If the PCs don't kill it, it will eventually make its way back to the druid's home (a couple of weeks away, but it has all winter) and try to warn them. The leopard can't talk, of course, but Speak With Animals is a first level spell for druids, so it won't take them long to realize what's up. If you want to be really nasty, say that the druid has thrown 5 points of her favored class bonus towards giving the leopard +5 Stealth; if I'm doing the numbers right, that should give it Stealth +24 or so. Even 11th level PCs may have some trouble catching this thing if it's allowed to escape into the forest.

Doug M.


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Okay, one additional comment not related to the previous. Gary has written up the Church of Mitra as LG, but skating very close to the LN line IMO. They blatantly lie about their politics, claiming to be apolitical but actually supporting House Darius; they are infuriated by "rogue" priests outside the hierarchy; they ban books and persecute "dubious" scholarship, to the point that even good-aligned scholars and wizards have come to hate the Church; and they are intolerant of other religions (presumably even other LG ones) to the point of trying to keep them out of the country.

I'm actually fine with this. If the Church were a bunch of humble monks dedicated only to healing and good works, it would be a lot less fun to bring them down. Making them a bit oppressive and obnoxious is great, as long as they're still within the bounds the game sets for Good alignment. Were I running this, I'd totally emphasize the paternalistic, de-haut-en-bas aspects. It's easy to hate someone who oozes smugness and condescension, even if he is feeding the poor and caring for orphans. And, of course, the Church's policies give the PCs a bunch of potential allies -- foreigners, wizards, rivals of House Darius -- should they be needed.

Finally, it strikes me that the Church -- rich, socially dominant, entrenched by law -- should be ripe for corruption as much as destruction. The writeup states that almost all the bishops are noblemen, and many are not spellcasters. This suggests to me that a lot of them are probably not LG, and would be perfectly willing to switch sides and put on new hats if the PCs achieve their goals.

And this is law, I will maintain
Unto my Dying Day, Sir.
That whatsoever King may reign,
I will be the Vicar of Bray, Sir!

Doug M.


Doug,

I think you have made a very astute analysis of the Mitran church. The Mitran church in Talingarde is certainly a good institution. It focuses on healing the sick, feeding the poor and keeping the populace on the path to eternal salvation.

However, in order to ensure that its good works are done, it has become entrenched in politics and seriously insular about outside corrupting forces. And yes, corruption is inevitable.

In fact, we've already seen some of that corruption in the AP. You've already met one seriously corrupt priest. We get more next book as the PCs go to the capitol of Talingarde -- Matharyn.

But for all the potential for corruption, it is remarkable how uncorrupt the Mitran faith remains. On its balance sheet is far more good than evil. They are a noble institution that is one of the pillars of this noble realm.

And that is why they have to pay.

Isn't it great to be bad?

Gary McBride
Fire Mountain Games


Ummm.... Roughly how many minions should the PCs have in Ghastenhall?!?!


Derfelcadarn,

The Minion management system doesn't keep track of exactly how many minions are under the PCs control, but if you want a very rough approximation I would think ten minions per weekly action isn't a terrible estimate.

So, if you have four 11th level PCs who average a Charisma of 14 between them (+2) that means by the time their in Ghastenhall, they should have pool of roughly eight actions a week. That would be eighty minions in their evil organization (who are mostly level 1 or 2 NPC classed individuals).

Plus cohorts of course.

Does that answer your question?

Gary McBride
Fire Mountain Games


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Fire Mountain Games wrote:

Doug,

I think you have made a very astute analysis of the Mitran church. The Mitran church in Talingarde is certainly a good institution. It focuses on healing the sick, feeding the poor and keeping the populace on the path to eternal salvation.

However, in order to ensure that its good works are done, it has become entrenched in politics and seriously insular about outside corrupting forces. And yes, corruption is inevitable.

In fact, we've already seen some of that corruption in the AP. You've already met one seriously corrupt priest. We get more next book as the PCs go to the capitol of Talingarde -- Matharyn.

But for all the potential for corruption, it is remarkable how uncorrupt the Mitran faith remains. On its balance sheet is far more good than evil. They are a noble institution that is one of the pillars of this noble realm.

And that is why they have to pay.

Isn't it great to be bad?

Gary McBride
Fire Mountain Games

I am glad to hear this. My main big worry was that the Mitrans would turn out to be a gang of purely hypocritical yutzes and there'd be no real 'good guys' for the villains to face. I can set up my own take-on-the-phonies adventures for edgy rogues, but in this AP of yours I want to see real heroes for the villains to cast down.

I suppose my own take on the Mitrans is that they're the Jedi Council from the prequels; they're not what they once were, but they ARE the good guys.

Grand Lodge

Eric Hinkle wrote:
I suppose my own take on the Mitrans is that they're the Jedi Council from the prequels; they're not what they once were, but they ARE the good guys.

I like that. I think I'm going to keep that line of thinking for my group as well.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I'm just dropping in with a few quick thoughts.

1. I LOVE this adventure path. It's unique, and it's the only time I've seen evil done well.

2. It's not just evil done well. It's a great adventure path in its own right. There's a ton of creativity here, and, above all, the designer notes are incredibly helpful to guide the dm in understanding how to extract some of the more clever nuances from the adventures and NPCs.

3. I actually think this might become a classic. I'm thinking not of the original Ravenloft, but more of groundbreakers like Kingmaker and Ptolus. It has their same level of originality and quality.

4. (My one and only critique). I wish the editing were tightened up just a bit. There are a number of typos, words running together, etc. I haven't noticed anything key, or anything to do with missing or erroneous gaming info.

I wonder if, since the PDF is often out ahead of time, if you might not take a page from Open Design's book and allow people who spot errors a limited time frame to post them to you before releasing the printed proof? Maybe even a raffle based on number of new errors found for a (single) free copy of the print book amongst the editors (who would have paid for the pdf already).

Just a thought.

Anyway, KEEP UP THE FANTASTIC WORK!


Aberzanzorax,

Wow. Comparing us to Kingmaker and Ptolus. I am flattered greatly by such comparisons.

I'm glad you are enjoying the adventure path. We're not done yet. We're only halfway through this monster. I think the next three chapters hold a lot of excitement and surprises yet to come.

I liked your suggestion about errors. Hmmm...I'll have to think about how to implement it.

But regardless, thanks for the kind words and thanks for supporting "Way of the Wicked".

There is yet more wicked work ahead.

Gary McBride
Fire Mountain Games


Eric Hinkle wrote:
I suppose my own take on the Mitrans is that they're the Jedi Council from the prequels; they're not what they once were, but they ARE the good guys.

Hah, I missed this at first, but yes. We seem to have adopted a 'Star Wars' analogy regimen for this campaign and that one certainly fits.

However, unlike the Jedi Council, their heyday is not far in their past. During the reign of the Victor, the Church of Mitra was never more resolute, purposeful and incorruptible. Remember also that while Markadian I disapproved of the Church of Asmodeus, he tolerated it so long as they obeyed the law. But that was forty years ago.

A lot can change in forty years.

Gary McBride
Fire Mountain Games


I've read half the pages - damn, do I want this in dead-tree! Dumb question: WIll an errata'd version be used for dead-tree or this one? Not that this version is bad, quite the contrary but it does have some minor glitches.

Cheers!


Endzeitgeist,

Alas, incorporating the errata would require starting the whole, lengthy, painfully interminable approval process all over again. So, it will be the same as the initial release. However, we will update your PDF from time to time.

In fact, I'm working on an errata update for the AP as we speak.

Gary McBride
Fire Mountain Games


All right, I'll still buy anything you put out - you're WotW is too good to not have on my shelf. Yeah, I know, bad pun. :D


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

This is great adventure my group jump right in. the side missions were also great. we spent nearly two days about 12 hrs each on the side missions. the suggestion you gave me keep every one happy. my group bought their copy's also. but i refused to start on the vale until i get my hands on the printed copy so good work in this as it is keeping 6 players entrall plus sinch i ran book 1 two more players have become regulars at my table sorry cant get the spolier to work for me.
{ characters are using the circle to keep the apperance as bugbears }
once i get the printed version they wanted to play that weekand.

Very good job to get such a commited from people.


Endzeitgeist,

That's gratifying to hear. Your reviews have been much appreciated! Anyways, back to the grindstone.

Gary McBride
Fire Mountain Games


Bruce,

Glad to hear you continue to enjoy "Way of the Wicked". It sounds like you have a very dedicated group of players.

Game on, my friend.

Gary McBride
Fire Mountain Games


New preview art from book three.

The blade Helbrand -- a weapon of great evil.

You can get more art previews on our facebook page. Sign up and be kept in the loop about what Fire Mountain Games is up to.

Gary McBride
Fire Mountain Games


Helbrand looks like one fine piece of work. I get the idea that it was forged all out of one piece of steel, tang and blade, with just some leather wrapped around the tang to make a hilt.


Pardon my asking, but just to be sure: this one will be done as print on demand like the first two books, right? Maybe I'm just being jumpy, but I seem to recall the POD version coming out more quickly for the first two books.


I have books one & two, looking forward to this one coming out in print as well so I can get the bundle. Great stuff.


Eric,

I think you're on to something with Helbrand.

As for the POD, yes, they are being pokey. Yes, it will be available soon (hopefully) and yes we will let everyone know as soon as it is available.

Anyways, thanks for your continued support of "Way of the Wicked".

Gary McBride
Fire Mountain Games


Sakkara,

Thanks for the kind words! Glad you're enjoying the books!

As I said to Eric above...soon on the print!

Gary McBride
Fire Mountain Games


Is it just me or is this print copy taking longer than the others to be available?


PathfinderFan64 wrote:
Is it just me or is this print copy taking longer than the others to be available?

It is not just you. I do apologize for the delay. Unfortunately, it is beyond our control and no one is more anxious than me to get this done.

The simple truth is that the printer is being pokey in validating the files. They haven't said anything is wrong. In fact, just the opposite. They are sitting on it.

And so we all must patiently wait.

Gary McBride
Fire Mountain Games


Fire Mountain Games wrote:
PathfinderFan64 wrote:
Is it just me or is this print copy taking longer than the others to be available?

It is not just you. I do apologize for the delay. Unfortunately, it is beyond our control and no one is more anxious than me to get this done.

The simple truth is that the printer is being pokey in validating the files. They haven't said anything is wrong. In fact, just the opposite. They are sitting on it.

Personally, I blame Chaotic Good Elven Cyber-Hippies from the Future who are trying to prevent the rise of Asmodeus.

But then again, I blame them for everything.


I think Mitra is behind this.


Whether its elves, Mitra or the printer is simply swamped, it matters not. I just want the book available.

Anyways, to tide you over until that magical days arrives, here's some more of Mike's beautiful full color art.

This is The-Flame-That-Sings.

We've shown the sketch of this imagine before, but here it is in fiery full color. Enjoy!

Gary McBride
Fire Mountain Games


Gary it does look even better in full color.


PathfinderFan64 wrote:
Gary it does look even better in full color.

You'll get no argument from me. Mike Clarke is an amazing artist. And right now exclusively employed by Fire Mountain Games.

Gary McBride
Fire Mountain Games


I have to agree with everyone who said they love the art for this AP and for this book in particular. The work is amazing. I'm so looking forward to what Mister Clarke does with Chargammon and Thorn when we see him as he truly is in future books.


Eric,

Chargammon is truly something to look forward too. Argossarian was just a taste of what Mike has planned for the dragons in this campaign.

Gary McBride
Fire Mountain Games


I just ordered the print copy.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
PathfinderFan64 wrote:
I just ordered the print copy.

Thanks for your continued support of "Way of the Wicked". We could not go forward and complete this project without people like you!

Onward to book 4! You've burned Balentyne, held the Horn, and violated Valtaerna. But all that pales before dealing with the dragon.

Gary McBride
Fire Mountain Games

Grand Lodge

Fire Mountain Games wrote:

Onward to book 4! You've burned Balentyne, held the Horn, and violated Valtaerna. But all that pales before dealing with the dragon.

Gary McBride
Fire Mountain Games

Is it silver, gold, or black?


I will let you know what I think about it in around 2 weeks. I do have the pdf but I want to read the print copy.

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