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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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

well it is no brainer. when you create a good material people notice. and yours is one of the best i have seen in along time. pathfinders modules are ok but two short for my taste most of the time. i spend a lot of time adding stuff for my group. and i spend even more on yours just to get all the detail down for my group. your books should remain best seller for a while in my option. its silly but i had to by two copy of each. i woreout each book due to overuse. so i had to get the second for my collection. yes i consider you books to be collector worthy.
you realy did a outstanding job on them.


Bruce,

Thanks for your kind words and continued support. It really does mean a lot.

Gary McBride
Fire Mountain Games


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Question did the book get delay or is at drivethru i have checked both drivethru and paizo so far nothing they are usly very fast with this stuff?


bruce novakowski wrote:
Question did the book get delay or is at drivethru i have checked both drivethru and paizo so far nothing they are usly very fast with this stuff?

Seems like Gary needed a little bit longer than expected. I hope it will be available next week. :)


It's away!

Book Four has been uploaded to Paizo.Com and DriveThruRPG. As soon as it is approved, it should be for sale. Printer version is also working its way through the system.

More info shortly.

Gary McBride
Fire Mountain Games

Contributor

And Part Four is ready to rock here!


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Yes thank you sorry for bugging you about it


No need for apologies.

Thanks again, Bruce for supporting "Way of the Wicked" and being passionate about our books.

Gary McBride
Fire Mountain Games

Scarab Sages Reaper Miniatures

@Gary - I tried to reply to you the other day (On the KS comment thread), but I think you had logged out. I'm really excited to see you over there, and I know I can think of a certain place in this book to use the fire rewards!

I'm really enjoying this, through book 4 now, and really looking forward to book 5 and 6! Keep on doing an awesome job, sir!


Bryan,

Yeah, the kickstarter comment boards churn through those messages pretty fast. Glad to support Reaper and glad you're enjoying "Way of the Wicked".

Onward to Book 5!

Gary McBride
Fire Mountain Games


Eric Hinkle,

Thanks for the new five-star review!

Gary McBride
Fire Mountain Games


Hello gary,

Have you got an idea how well your books are sold compared to other 3PP or paizo ?

Because I see a lot of enthusiastic people around this wicked campaign but may be it's a small very small community.

Did the sales reach your expectations ? Don't worry i'm not going to claim taxes ^^. I was just curious. You don't have to gice precise numbers.


Major Longhorn,

Thanks for your interest.

Compared to Paizo's sales, "Way of the Wicked" is barely a blip.

For a 3PP, "Way of the Wicked" is doing very well. We have almost sold 2,000 copies all told.

Sales have been and continue to be strong.

I'll probably near the end of the year (Way of the Wicked first went for sale in mid-December 2011), I'll post a more concrete "first year report".

I, inspired by publishers like Evil Hat, believe in being transparent with our readers about sales numbers.

Gary McBride
Fire Mountain Games


Fire Mountain Games wrote:

Eric Hinkle,

Thanks for the new five-star review!

Gary McBride
Fire Mountain Games

Hopefully I'll soon be able to get a copy of book 4 and then I can review it too. I love this AP you're doing!


Thanks Gary for the information.
Well 2000 copies is at the same time "a lot" but so little given the great great GREAT campaign you have made with also great illustrations (apart book 1 cover).2000 also includes PDF sales ?

I find it so good ...

oh btw don't worry about the slaughtering and all that. My players loved being really evil and slaughter innocent people "just for the sake of it". Funny how a guys always playing a paladin in other games can become a mass murderer in a flick of the switch. ^^

who said "bad to the bones " ?

Contributor

2000 copies is exceptionally good for a third-party publisher. Congrats Gary!


Upload book V and it'll be 2001 as soon as I press f5 :)

Grand Lodge

Book V is now out. Just got e-mailed my update at DriveThru.


Camon Liz. Upload it! *Whiplashhhh* :)

Contributor

Hey, I wasn't the one that needed to upload it! It's available here! :D


Haven't seen any play reports recently. Surely someone must be playing this? Lots of people seem to be having fun with the first two...

Doug M.


For my exemple, second part can be specially loooooooong. Not a bad thing, but really want to arrive to 3 and specially 4 part.


Doug,

I keep track of a lot of online play reports and so far I know of only one group who has made it as far as Book Three.

And they do not routinely post reports here at Paizo.com.

Though we are fortunate to get some Book Two play reports, most groups have not even reached that.

I know my own group just reached Balentyne for example.

So, I predict with time more play reports will come.

Gary McBride
Fire Mountain Games
Check out our kickstarter! Creature Cards


I for my part gamemastering this path with my friends at the table (we reached middle of book 2) and in a online group (in german - just ask if you want to know more) in a forum. The online game is sort of sluggish. But I think they will have escaped Branderscar by the end of this week. Finally.

Scarab Sages

My group is just about to finish book 2 (just the last encounter to go), so I predict that I'll be starting book 3 in the next session. As and when we get started I'll let you know.

Having so much fun with this series. So easy to run (as a GM), especially as I have a group of 8. Rarely have I had to give anything even so much as the advanced template (just use good tactics :P).

Grand Lodge

Hey Gary, can you tell us a little about Barleybell? There's an entry there for it, but it's completely blank. It literally reads:
XIV. Barleybell
XV. Turnsborough

Grand Lodge

Also, what's so important about "Alaena Crowley"? haunting the estate? Did the PCs meet her somewhere previous?

Grand Lodge

Bumping so Gary can see these questions.

Grand Lodge

How's Book 6 coming along? I'm hoping to have all six read before I start my campaign this Sunday.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

kevin_video,

Barleybell and Turnsborough are both described in the same text block below the entry. My wife warned me that people were not going to get this during her editing pass. And I just want you to know, you're only proving her right. Sheesh, there is going to be no living with her now... :)

Alaena Crowley...

Spoiler:

Is only mentioned in the sidequests. She is yours to play with an develop. As a ghostly priestess of Mitra, she could be just a straight combat encounter I suppose. But I would more likely have her curse and haunt of the PCs until they finally find the fetters that tie her to this world and banish her once and for all.

Basically, take the evil ghost seeks vengeance from beyond the grave cliche' and turn it on its head.

Anyways, hope that helps.

Gary McBride
Fire Mountain Games

Grand Lodge

Fire Mountain Games wrote:

kevin_video,

Barleybell and Turnsborough are both described in the same text block below the entry. My wife warned me that people were not going to get this during her editing pass. And I just want you to know, you're only proving her right. Sheesh, there is going to be no living with her now... :)

Alaena Crowley...

** spoiler omitted **

Anyways, hope that helps.

Gary McBride
Fire Mountain Games

lol You've been married how long and you're now figuring out that she's always right? Ooh. I was told long ago that my girlfriend is always right. She's told me a regular basis these last few years. I've since accepted that unconditionally.

I'll have to read that text block more thoroughly.

Okay, just a side quest. I was wondering because they way it was described I honestly felt that I had missed something somewhere, and no matter how much I searched (Ctrl+F) I couldn't find the info I was looking for.


Hey Gary,

I'm sure you are busy with getting book VI ready, the KS cards, and all the really cool stuff you're coming up with for Throne of Night (also, the holiday season). All that being said, I've got a of question for you:
I'm pretty sure that my PC's are going to want to spend some of their hard(ly) earned money on outfitting their minions with some better equipment. Is this something that will be addressed in book VI (you'd mentioned that there were going to be some alternate ideas for minion stuff in book VI) or something that you have any thoughts on?

No hurry on a reply, it'll be a few weeks yet before we finish up our Jade Regent module. Can't wait to run WotW book III, though!


1 person marked this as a favorite.
John Malueg wrote:

Hey Gary,

I'm sure you are busy with getting book VI ready, the KS cards, and all the really cool stuff you're coming up with for Throne of Night (also, the holiday season). All that being said, I've got a of question for you:
I'm pretty sure that my PC's are going to want to spend some of their hard(ly) earned money on outfitting their minions with some better equipment. Is this something that will be addressed in book VI (you'd mentioned that there were going to be some alternate ideas for minion stuff in book VI) or something that you have any thoughts on?

No hurry on a reply, it'll be a few weeks yet before we finish up our Jade Regent module. Can't wait to run WotW book III, though!

John,

Always happy to give a few thoughts.

I would let the PCs, if they make a substantial monetary investment in their minions, receive a bonus to the organization stats. If I was ever to expand that system, that would be one of the very first ways I would expand it.

You don't want it to be too cheap -- otherwise the PCs will simply max out their stats with very little sacrifice. You don't want it to be too expensive because you want it to be a viable option. I would probably make the exact cost dependent on PCs level.

I guess what I'm saying is that I agree with the goal, I just haven't spent the time developing it yet.

Gary McBride
Fire Mountain Games


Fire Mountain Games wrote:

Doug,

I keep track of a lot of online play reports and so far I know of only one group who has made it as far as Book Three.

And they do not routinely post reports here at Paizo.com.

Though we are fortunate to get some Book Two play reports, most groups have not even reached that.

I know my own group just reached Balentyne for example.

So, I predict with time more play reports will come.

Gary McBride
Fire Mountain Games
Check out our kickstarter! Creature Cards

I've been GMing through the adventure and my party is about to tackle the Cathedral of Mitra Made Manifest. Would you prefer my thoughts on the book in the product discussion or in a review?

Grand Lodge

Ice Titan wrote:
I've been GMing through the adventure and my party is about to tackle the Cathedral of Mitra Made Manifest. Would you prefer my thoughts on the book in the product discussion or in a review?

A review is always preferable.


Ice Titan wrote:
I've been GMing through the adventure and my party is about to tackle the Cathedral of Mitra Made Manifest. Would you prefer my thoughts on the book in the product discussion or in a review?

Ice Titan,

Which every way you prefer! We always love to hear feedback.

And, by the way, thanks for running "Way of the Wicked"!

Gary McBride
Fire Mountain Games


My party are finishing the month of rest, and having a blast with the pit fighting and resolving some problems from their past on Ghastenhall for the Tiefling sisters. But want to comment two little problems.

First, the festival with all their magic items. The party have big money from all the Horn of Abbadon affair, and want to burn it: that’s good. But the money they have is not enough to buy all they want (they have a great luck with the magic items that were on the selling, so they decided to steal the rest. On one side, they are evil, and steal what they want are really appropriate, specially with a Ninja and a SGG Shadow Assassin on the party. On the other side, they can get too much power with so many magic. What could be the defense of the magic sellers against thief? I think I will let them steal what they want and later have wizards pursuit them. Any ideas?

The second problem is with the Duergar. Really like their background, but the party have one Dwarf, and with their history, will they really collaborate with a dwarf?

Grand Lodge

Alaryth wrote:


My party are finishing the month of rest, and having a blast with the pit fighting and resolving some problems from their past on Ghastenhall for the Tiefling sisters. But want to comment two little problems.

First, the festival with all their magic items. The party have big money from all the Horn of Abbadon affair, and want to burn it: that’s good. But the money they have is not enough to buy all they want (they have a great luck with the magic items that were on the selling, so they decided to steal the rest. On one side, they are evil, and steal what they want are really appropriate, specially with a Ninja and a SGG Shadow Assassin on the party. On the other side, they can get too much power with so many magic. What could be the defense of the magic sellers against thief? I think I will let them steal what they want and later have wizards pursuit them. Any ideas?

The second problem is with the Duergar. Really like their background, but the party have one Dwarf, and with their history, will they really collaborate with a dwarf?

With regards to the items, have it be like the real life retail world, and have all of the items have an alarm on them if they leave the area without paying for it. Just imagine the looks on their faces when an audible alarm goes off.

As for the party's dwarf, have it be the duergar won't work for them unless the dwarf goes through a ritual and allows himself to become a duergar as well. Or, disguise him to be like a duergar.


Alarth,

I'm looking at starting book III soon with my group and was considering the issue about magic items as well. I had a couple of thoughts:

1. Have a buglary/theft minon action avaiable. Have a scaling Espionage check, DC depends on how powerful the item being stolen is (say DC 20 for medium magic items, DC 25 for major magic items). Success/failures could be:

Natural 20: Obtain item, theft is not noticed for some time (could be that they left a replica or something).

Success: Obtain item, guards go on alert. Increases the DC of future theft attempts by 2, cumulative. One month required with either no failures or thefts for the DC to drop back down.

Failure: Item not acquired.

Natural 1: Two options: 1. Item not acquired and guards go on high alert as above, or 2. Make a Loyalty check, DC equal to the original theft DC. If this fails, Loyalty -1 as the minions retrieve the object and take off with it.

My other idea is that Ghastenhall has banks that have been around for a long time. They likely have extremely well-secured vaults with magical and mundane protections. Powerful items are likely held there until a purchase is made. It's also probable that any help the banks have for guarding the vault is a cut above the usual rent-a-guard.


The bank seems a good idea. I supose I will the PCs steal what they want, but have to work hard for it and later the crime haunt them.
The minion action is good, but is a good time for give the ninja and Shadow Assassin a few of "screen time". I will think a bit of how to do it exactly, but definitively I like it.

Grand Lodge

Does anyone know why Sambethe, the Oracle of Mitra 14, is a CR 14 and not CR 13, especially when she's got a major flaw (lame) but no add-ons to compensate for it? If anything I'd say CR 12, or give her a bonus feat for having a lame leg and stay at CR 13.


A few days ago, my party make the battle of SaintBridge... really cool battle, a really memorable day. That Clay Golem at the beginning of the battle is REALLY nasty.


kevin_video wrote:
Does anyone know why Sambethe, the Oracle of Mitra 14, is a CR 14 and not CR 13, especially when she's got a major flaw (lame) but no add-ons to compensate for it? If anything I'd say CR 12, or give her a bonus feat for having a lame leg and stay at CR 13.

Oracles have a curse as part of their character as per the APG. Hers is the lame curse.

She has the ability to ignore fatigue, always moves at 20 even if encumbered and wearing armor. That's what she has as compensation.

Grand Lodge

Ice Titan wrote:
kevin_video wrote:
Does anyone know why Sambethe, the Oracle of Mitra 14, is a CR 14 and not CR 13, especially when she's got a major flaw (lame) but no add-ons to compensate for it? If anything I'd say CR 12, or give her a bonus feat for having a lame leg and stay at CR 13.

Oracles have a curse as part of their character as per the APG. Hers is the lame curse.

She has the ability to ignore fatigue, always moves at 20 even if encumbered and wearing armor. That's what she has as compensation.

Yeah, I got that, but that still doesn't explain why she's CR 14 when she's 14th level and has the same equipment as a 2nd level PC.


After an interlude of heroic roleplaying, it's back to villainy. Sorry it's a long post, had a couple of weeks of things to squeeze in.

Spoiler:
After receiving their reward from Thorn and quietly exiting the Horn and leaving it to Vetra-Kali (man, I am looking forward to book V), minus quite a bit of wealth, the PC's made good speed to Ghastenhall. They sold most of the enterprises they had taken over or started in Farholde to Shalyn Marsten and told the Baron to keep an eye on her and even gave him a bit to rebuild with. Then they sent their minions overland along multiple paths to Ghastenhall, appearing to be honest merchants going about their business. One group, however, was given the task of digging up some old, female half-elven bones so that the PC's can take the ring and bones to Duke Hadrian. Grumblejack and Artephius got to sit in crates on a barge.

Upon reaching Ghastenhall, the PC's debated whether to buy a warehouse or a mansion first, until I pointed out that they were carrying a rather important item for an errand and maybe it wasn't best to delay. The group was thrilled to learn of the Great Bizarre, at which they went "Oooo, ahhh, eh, we're really not that interested in getting something powerful or interesting, we'll just buy a lot of smaller items." Trik, however, did get a suit of silver dragon breastplate armor. It is very shiny. As the PC's were already level 10 I didn't have to pad out the XP at all, so we moved along fairly quickly. They made contact with Prince Gaius and recruited his resources (the oracle has the legalist curse, which I found in a pdf somewhere, so he's bound to do it). They also tracked down Izevel, and managed to recruit her as well without a blow being landed through shrewd diplomacy, mostly by giving her vengeance, a way out of the temple, and a possible remedy to her current cursed condition. We'll see if they can deliver on any of that.

And of course, there were the pit fights. One-on-one, no magic, or magic items. The monk battered his way through his opponents with rather brutal matches, sweeping the first weekend of fights. The following weekend the half-orc fighter managed to get to the third round before quitting, so the anti-paladin stepped in to finish the job. The half-orc redeemed himself the next week, barely. The fourth week saw the anti-paladin step in to try for the sweep, which started off really well for him, dropping the first two opponents with a total of three hits. He actually killed the second opponent before it even took an action. He was not a crowd favorite. He almost made up for it when it came to the last fight against the allosaurus, however. He charged in, got bitten and grabbed and spent most of the fight getting gnawed and clawed and was seconds from death. He did get a couple of solid whacks in, though. When it looked like he was about to be completely eaten, the gnome fire oracle, in disguise in the crowd, launched a fireball at the dinosaur. Things kinda spiralled out of control at that point (the oracle was rather shocked he hadn't exploded the dino). The allosaurus leapt out of the pit (anti-paladin still dangling from it's mouth) and preceded to rampage through the crowd. People panicked and fled. The magus tried to drop the rampaging dino with a phantasmal killer, which failed, much to his shock, and the half-orc with a 9 Dex took aim with his longbow. He managed to kill the beast with that shot, although at the same time the anti-paladin said enough was enough and used his corrupting touch on the dino. It kind of... exploded... everywhere. He did not collect his purse for the evenings fights, and the PC's that had bet didn't get to collect their bets either. Next week, meeting with the Fire-Axe.


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Well, we're already close to finished with book 3. All that's left now is the Cathedral.

Spoiler:
The PCs basically handled the Battle of Saintsbridge on their own, while their army mowed through the enemy infantry. Any important fights (I.E., all the events) were handled directly by the PCs. They pretty much walked right through those fights. The only one that gave them much trouble was the final fight. They were a bit scattered on the bridge, and the magus was invisible. The closest target was the antipaladin when the clerics wwalked up. So he got four flame strikes to the face. Made all his saves, though, so he survived (albeit just barely).

They've decided to spare the children of the town. They plan on indoctrinating them all. Basically a Hitler Youth type thing. They also spared the mothers of the children, for now. They have to kill their own mothers later on in the indoctrination. (Pretty sure they got the idea from how the Unsullied in A Song of Ice and Fire are trained)

The player playing the Antipaladin wasn't able to make it to the last game, so there were only two players there, with me running Grumblejack and their Vitalist healbot cohort from Leadership. They handled the Peri pretty well. The Magus got close to death a couple times, but the Vitalist kept him alive. They really didn't want to deal with the Phoenix, and upon seeing the nest, immediately threatened the eggs and forced the Phoenix to leave forever.

Inside the labyrinth, they had fun with the riddles. The first two were pretty simple, and they solved them pretty quickly. The final one took two tries. After how long they spent trying to figure it out the first time, on the second try I let them make a check to notice a weird inflection on the key word (wick'ed... I assumed it was meant to be pronounced wicked, which made it tricky). After getting the clue, it took just a few seconds before one of them shouted the answer while bouncing in his chair.

We ended the night after the monk and oracle fight. I had to rebuild them a bit so that the monk could actually touch any of the PCs. Also gave the oracle Antilife Shell to keep her alive longer. At least until Grumblejack charged right through it and cleaved her in half.

So far this book is going by pretty quickly. I doubt it will take more than one or two more sessions to finish. I plan on changing Ara Mathra a bit as well. He seems a little underwhelming for a big solo fight. He might be fine for a normal group, but my group is certainly not normal. Maybe using one of the Divine Heralds...


Your group walked over the content with only 2-3 players, Malignant Mind? Wow. I guess I'll have to buff the encounters quite a bit :/

EDIT: Sunlord Thalachos is CR15, Azra is CR 16. Haven't checked both very closely, but how is that an improvement?


gustavo iglesias wrote:

Your group walked over the content with only 2-3 players, Malignant Mind? Wow. I guess I'll have to buff the encounters quite a bit :/

EDIT: Sunlord Thalachos is CR15, Azra is CR 16. Haven't checked both very closely, but how is that an improvement?

My group is...efficient.

Spoiler:
The two that were there were the half-ogre fighter with all of the shield fighting feats, full plate, natural armor, and a decent dex. His AC is in the mid 30's. The other was a blackblade/kensei Magus that has pummped Int and Dex, with bracers of armor and a ring of pro, his AC is also in the mid 30s. Most average enemies have a hard time touching them. Even the stronger enemies have trouble reliably hitting on more than one attack.

As for Sunlord Thalachos vs. Ara Mathra...

Sunlord Thalachos is more powerful at CR 15 than Ara Mathra is at CR 16. Really, all Ara has going for him is his silly list of immunities. I'll probably still throw a couple extra HD onto ST to up his CR to 16.

Keep in mind, my group tends to min/max (somehow without crippling their characters in their non-focused areas). Unless your group is similar, I wouldn't change much.


MalignantMind wrote:
gustavo iglesias wrote:

Your group walked over the content with only 2-3 players, Malignant Mind? Wow. I guess I'll have to buff the encounters quite a bit :/

EDIT: Sunlord Thalachos is CR15, Azra is CR 16. Haven't checked both very closely, but how is that an improvement?

My group is...efficient.

** spoiler omitted **

My group isn't ultraoptimized (ie: no half-ogre templates, for example), but they bring no dead weight to the table either. And they are six players.

1) an antipaladin, with Aura of Command (if you intimidate someone by 10+, you can Command him as a free action), Cornugon Smash, and a big intimidating bonus. Plus a conductive sword, dastard full plate, and shield, that can "cast" Command for free every round he melees. AC in mind 20s, at level 7.
2) a scimitar-wielding blackblade magus with high dex, with focus in defensive spells (like Mirror Image)
3) a summoner with a quadruped eidolon with AC 30 (at 7th level) and 5 attacks with energy damage and pounce
4) a necromancer. Which is a wizard. Nuff' said.
5) an inquisitor archer.
6) a ninja-rogue blend (rogues ate ninjas and stole their stuff in my game), with alchemy, poisons, and poison bombs.

If you add a half-fiend ogre, a half-fiend medusa, an ogre mage ronin, an alchemical golem, and several high level zombies (I suspect a silver dragon zombie by that time), and just the overbearing forces they bring to the table mean a lot.

And yes, after checking Sunlord, he is slightly better than Azra (not by much, mind you). He poses a higher threat in damage, specially.

One thing I'm going to do with Azra, is giving him a shield, like in the picture in the book. A +3 large shield probably is enough. That put him in AC 37, with dispel Evil, which is kinda decent. Trading his +3 mace for a +3 holy mace also increase his threat.

Grand Lodge

If I have the Sunlord in the game, I'll have him show up after the fight with Ara Mathra. Be during the winter months.

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