Way of the Wicked—Book #4: Of Dragons and Princesses (PFRPG) PDF

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BECOME A MASTER OF DRAGONS!

The king of Talingarde must die! Your dread master commands you to carry out this errand of blood. Do you have what it takes to assassinate the king of the most noble, virtuous realm in all the world? Are you ready to seek out the most wicked and powerful of dragons and treat with him to destroy the king’s only heir—the fair princess Bellinda?

Welcome to the fourth chapter of the critically acclaimed, Ennie-nominated “Way of the Wicked” adventure path!

Inside you’ll find:

  • "Of Dragons and Princesses,” an adventure compatible with the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game designed for 13th-level villains by Gary McBride
  • Full color art and maps by Michael Clarke
  • A gazetteer of the noble city of Matharyn, capital of Talingarde
  • Rules for playing vampire and lich PCs
  • Everything you need to run a city sacking sandbox
  • And More!

Sack a city! Terrorize a nation! Kill a king! Ride a dragon into a battle! All of this you must do if you are to walk the Way of the Wicked.

Who wants to be a hero, when it’s so much more fun to be the bad guy?

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

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Fraud

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


Holy Guacamole

5/5

You're only half-way through and your group of terrors are already 13th level? Oh myyyy.

This chapter fully expects your villains to use the mighty magics and killing power at their disposal. Lacking access to 6th and 7th level cleric/wizard spells could severely hurt your ability to wreak havoc and unleash further mayhem.

One of the pleasant surprises during the later chapters of the Way of the Wicked is how long circle of death and similar spells remain viable offensive spells, which is a first in my experience with published 3e/3.5/Pathfinder campaigns.


Of Dragons and Princesses Review

5/5

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

This installment of Way of the Wicked was a pleasant surprise for me. After running through three great books, I shouldn't have been surprised when this one turned out to be a blast. However, on paper there were a few things that worried me about this book.

My first concern was the first act of the book. It is a sandbox style sacking of the city of Daveryn that is quite long and seemed like it would risk being stagnant. I still do believe that this is potential weak spot in the campaign. However, this weakness was easily navigated by cherry picking the sections that I thought would be interesting to my players and having Fire-Axe bring them up to the players. The rest of the events, I just held in reserve in case my players decided to explore. Personally, I ran the Duelist Academy event, because we had a Swashbuckler who loves challenging people to duels, the Baroness's encounter, because she is the cousin of one of the PCs and I merged the prison and the rebellion into one encounter, because I knew my PCs would love the opportunity to recruit prisoners and Ifran had useful information. I also ran the Duke's encounter via minion quest. All of these events seemed enjoyable for my players.

My second concern for this game was that the story seemed very reliant on the players making specific choices. I feared that players would decide not to bother with Chargammon or try to kill the princess. However, I did not face any issues with this. Thorn's plan offered enough intrigue for my players and Dessiter was a useful tool for persuading the players out of inadvisable plans, like trying to take Thorn out immediately.

In addition to the above areas, there were some other really great parts of this book. Eiramanthus in particular turned out to be a great boss battle. Spells like Mislead and Reverse Gravity made for a memorable and cinematic feel, while his melee prowess and anti-magic field had a reasonably optimized party of six fearing for their lives. The battle was so good that the happiest player at the table was the one who died, because she thought her death was epic.

The characters continue to be excellent. Chargammon was appropriately terrifying. Jeratheon is a fun addition. His dysfunctional relationship with his father opens up a lot of interesting RP opportunities that I think will continue to pay off after Chargammon's death. Also, even though Dessiter was introduced in the last book, I feel obliged to acknowledge him again, because he is such an excellent character. Every time he says something I can tell my players aren't sure whether to laugh, buy him a drink or punch him in the face.

Overall, this whole adventure path continues to be excellent and I have yet to find a good reason not to recommend it.


5/5

I've reviewed this book over on RPGGeek.com.


4.5 stars - a great adventure with minor weaknesses in the finale

5/5

This pdf is 106 pages long, 1 page front cover, 2 pages maps of Talingarde, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD and 1 page back cover, leaving a total of 99 pages of content, so let's check this out!

This being an adventure-review, the following text contains a lot of SPOILERS. Potential players may wish to jump to the conclusion.

Still here? All right!

The last adventure had the PCs in a precarious situation - the sacking of the most holy places of Mitran religion can easily be botched and thus, this adventure kicks off with the PCs either fleeing from the Vale with an army on their heels or triumphantly marching from it in charge of their own dark forces. Worse for Cardinal Thorn's dread masterplan - his third knot, the assassins in charge with dealing with the regent King Markadian failed and were vanquished and his mole in the army is too frightened to assassinate the king. His plan seems to be crumbling - but there are the PCs, aren't there? These people have been a valuable asset, but they are getting too strong. Thus, Thorn develops a Xanathos gambit that may very well backfire: The king dearly loves his daughter and this is his weakness - if a sufficient threat surfaces in the royal palace, he'll come to the rescue - with the elite of his guard. But what constitutes a sufficient threat? What about Chargammon, legendary old black wyrm? Yeah, that should do the trick. The PCs get a lackluster assignment - recruit the extremely hostile Chargammon, known to slay all intruders to attack the royal palace and in the chaos ensuing the King's return, kill the regent, a formidable foe himself and destroy his elite guard. Even if they fail, Thorn wins - gaining finally the leverage to force his mole's hand. Now if that does not smell of suicide mission, the PCs are dumb. For now, though, they'll have play along.

Thus, the module kicks off with the PCs leaving Valtaerna, either at the helm of their own successful army and with an enhancement to their own evil organization or with their tails between their legs, fleeing from a vast army featuring a magic banner. Rescuing their bugbear commanders, their hippogriffs, teleportation magic - a bunch of options to escape after a botched invasion are there and even abandoning the rank-and-file goons is expected (they can be replenished), though not necessary - the PCs can actually lead their army through the wintry, deadly passes to escape with their organization intact. Once they rendezvous with the Fire-Axe, they'll see that at least the sacking of Daveryn went as planned - the city has fallen and Sakkarot wants to talk to them - and trade information, for Sakkarot, ina fit of melancholy, tells them the details of his deal with Thorn and that in the end, he is to take a fall against the Asmodean "saviors" once Talingarde has plunged into chaos. More worrying is that Tiadora and Thorn seem to be rather stingy with new orders/plans. But before new orders are issued, the PCs will have some fun - sacking Daveryn, district by district, looking for loot as well as allies and the missing duke, squashing resistances etc. - the city comes with a beautiful , player-friendly full-color map that includes the names for the district, but thankfully no annoying numbers. And it is neat to see the consequences of the PC's actions, e.g. the Tears of Achlys, which claim victims and remain a potent and deadly threat. A total of 4 looting tables, plus one for magic items and multiple random encounters supplement the planned encounters that are part of the looting: From breaking the last remnants of the resistance (e.g. the remaining city watch and a company of soldiers) to an interesting find in the local wizard's tower, the PCs have some challenges waiting: Said Wizard has the hints to the legendary wyrm Chargammon's nest as well as more vital clues: The Duke is still inside the city walls and hiding and the lord of eagles seems to have captured the spawn of Chargammon. It should also be noted that the diviner's spellbook and notes make for some cool treasures - especially the lavish description of the spellbook is a nice touch. Of course, even now the PCs can make new allies: The Baroness Vanya of Veryn, holed up in her mansion would make Cersei Lannister pale in comparison to her wickedness, but she's also a consummate politician that may make for a valuable ally regarding social interactions. The insane glory-hound and duelist master Rodrigo would make for the second potential ally - while not evil, he is amoral and cares only for his craft. Add to that spymaster Anton Breuder (who could provide a benefit in a future module), the option to steal the sapphire of storms (if the PCs are up for Mission Impossible-style trap disarming) and we're in for some fun. Better yet, if the PCs have failed to keep the slaughter of Valtaerna secret, the local prison could serve as a means to replenish their organization and a means to recruit Irfan al-Janbiya, the one assassin who was spared the righteous wrath of Sir Richard when he crushed the third knot. Once the PCs have found and dealt with all sources of information (good place to torture the subdued duke and perhaps a Mitran cardinal), the PCs could move onward -or they could do a cool sidequest for Grumblejack (or Raiju) to collect different types of spirits they may find strewn around the city - rather cool and adds some neat details to the local economy. The climax of the sacking should come as both a challenge to the PCs and as a sign that they are truly infamous: Two angels come down from the heavens to put them to justice.
Speaking of outsiders - Tiadora, this time accompanied by 9 errinyes, makes finally an appearance and hands off the quest to the PCs, acknowledging (perhaps subconsciously) that they did ALL the successful, major work in Thorn's gambit. By now the PCs should slowly starting to grasp that their master becomes concerned with their power. For now, though, they are off to the aerie of the Eagle Lord, a mythic being that commands the storms itself to rescue a black dragon - either by slaying the legendary bird and its court or by subterfuge and then have to deal with the rather dumb and deceitful spawn of the great wyrm to secure an audience and get them past the array of deadly river drakes guarding the isle. Worse, the duplicitous dragon does not warn them against the other defenses of the great wyrms lair, which makes e.g. the viper vines all the more deadly. Not as deadly as negotiating with an utterly chaotic evil black wyrm, though - in the end, PC ingenuity should prevail (there are btw. alternate ways to secure an audience) and they're off on a quest for the wyrm - to slay his rival, the copper wyrm Eiramanthus. Slaying a dragon is never easy and slaying this particular one is no exception.

The charismatic copper wyrm is a known planeswalker and has, in his travels far and wide, secured an array of concubines of surprising power - from Setia Swims-the-Sea-of-Stars, a ceteceal agathion to Sakari Yoshimune, a Toshigami Kami to finally Shakti Shobhana, a redeemed tataka rakshasa, the respective companions will provide quite a challenge - on their own. If the PCs are dumb enough to race into the island with drawn weapons and without a good plan to take care of them one by one, they will be squashed - especially with the allies of the respective concubines and potentially the copper dragon master of the island joining the fray. Add to that the labyrinthine quarters, crystalline gargoyles and a xorn emissary and a puzzle on a chess field, an interdimensional witchwyrd genius studying planar travel and the villains will be sorely tested even before they reach Eiramanthus, who true to his breed, will be rather communicative at first - of course, conflict with the noble being is inevitable and in the end, either he (and all remaining servitors/companions) or the PCs will be dead. And the rewards are nice indeed - the draconic hoard not only contains quite a bunch of unique treasures and is presented in excruciating detail, it also contains yet another piece of fabled hellbrand, dark blade of Asmodean champions and the demi-lich called "Nameless Tyrant", encased in crystal and yet another potential minion, albeit a very dangerous one - especially the knowledge of the lich-transformation might be interesting for the PCs Even more interesting, though is the infernal ally Dessiter, who warns the PCs of the impending treachery in Book 5 and to keep away from Thorn and plot his demise, adding quite a bunch of interesting pieces of information to the PC's repertoire, including the reason why Sir Richard has not yet been eliminated.
And then coolness begins - for the deed of slaying the copper wyrm, the PCs are actually rewarded by Chargammon in a rather cool way: He forces his son to serve them for 100 years - the PCs can now ride a black dragon into battle! Hell yeah! It's time to slay a king - in a month. First, wise PCs should explore the city of Matharyn and stock up - for before slaying the king will be perhaps their last chance for a while to get things done before the breakneck show-down with Thorn. The final location then, the Adarium, beckons and powerful wizards can be slain as well as celestials, righteous pyre-golems destroyed and diplomatic relations ruined (if the PCs act smart...). Secrets can be unearthed - including the hidden location of Hellbrands final component and Thorn's phylactery. Better yet, the magical prodigy princess and Sir Richard are here as well, guarded by an honor guard and a golem of mithral, their defenses are extensive and will ensure that the two get away - and for now that might be good, as it turns out the princess of Talingarde is not only beautiful, she's also a silver dragon-spawned prodigy of magic and when Sir Richard is defeated by Chargammon's assault, she intercedes and actually slays the dragon. Meanwhile, the PCs will have quite a battle with Markadian V and his elite guard on their hands.

The pdf also offers extensive troubleshooting advice and help with what/if-scenarios regarding the module's plot and the consequences we can expect from the potential of failure. We also get a whole page depicting the outcome of the clash between the Fire-Axe's armies and the forces of the king sans their leader that serves as an introduction to the things to come. The city of Matharyn gets a lavishly detailed gazetteer-section, including information on putting the PC's organization to the test against the excellent night watch. The pdf also offers advice for lich and vampire PCs and a run-down to make Way of the Wicked an all-vampiric campaign, from Book I to VI.

Conclusion:
Editing and formatting are very good, though not perfect - I encountered some minor typos spread throughout the module, though no enough to rate it down. Layout of the AP is beautiful and on par with Paizo publications and the artworks and cartography are stellar and up to the highest quality. The pdf comes fully bookmarked and with a semi-printer-friendly version without backgrounds as well as another pdf that includes the handout as well as player-friendly versions of all the maps sans the annoying numbers -AWESOME!
The fourth module of the WotW-AP is a wicked ride of fun, but one that needs careful planning on part of the DM - the module relies on the PCs completing the plan in spite of its flaws and a lot of quid-pro-quo-quests. To truly make this module work, a GM has to be up on his game. That being said, the module nevertheless is a stellar example of cool things to do and the villains will finally feel as if they are infamous indeed - the attacks by celestials and the forces of good finally directly attack the PCs and the option to gain a dragon mount rocks. Challenging creatures like a dragon and an ancient nature spirit is iconic indeed. That being said, there is at least one potential problem I see with the module: While the capital of Talingarde is detailed and the Adarium a challenging climax, it is the final section that needs a bit of DM-expansion: The pdf does not cover HOW to enter the Adarium and while the players have a multitude of tools at their behest, some guidelines would have been nice. Additionally, the PC's infiltration while their "threat" forces the king's hand could have been made more iconic, with more guards that are slain while the PCs are running the corridors. A timeline or some cinematic scenes in which the PCs can see how their wicked ally vanquishes otherwise lethal roadblocks in the module would have added some gleeful spite to their accomplishments.

That being said, I am complaining on a very high level here - this module is still an excellent, awesome ride and while it has no new mechanics like the two immediate prequels, it offers the PCs a chance to reclaim an organization and make new allies - though I would have loved to see more for the villain's cohorts to do. In contrast to the attack on Valtaerna, this module does not offer much to do for the poor cohorts apart from accompanying the PCs, which is a pity - give the psychotic alchemical golem, Grumblejack etc. something to do in the Adarium. (Though the sidequest provided for a cohort is awesome...) Perhaps a sabotage of the golems, a reconnaissance, making the assassin kill the court mage etc. - something like that. While easily done yourself, I would have nevertheless enjoyed to see some love there. Again, please bear in mind that this is still complaining at the highest level. Book 4 provides us with interesting challenges, is logical and makes for a fun ride for your villains and while personally, I slightly enjoyed the first 3 books more due to aforementioned minor nitpicks, I maintain that this pdf is still an excellent module that this time lacks hard-to-presume assumptions like the communication-blockade in book III - in fact, many adversaries herein utilize spells etc. to piece together information on your PCs, lending an air of credibility to the world and the actions of your dastardly group of devil-worshipers. The additional material is also up to the stellar quality of the book, though personally I don't like the section on vampire and lich-PCs - honestly, these topics need to be tackled in much more detail to work smoothly, at least speaking from experience. I have a vampire-PC ( a fallen, blessed priestess that turned towards bloodthirsty fanaticism) in my home-campaign and rest assured, the implications go beyond what one would expect at first.

How to rate this, then? You heard my nagging complaints and might ask yourself why I'm so utterly nitpicky with regards to these modules. Why? Well, because the Way of the Wicked is that good. Honestly, "Call forth Darkness" is perhaps one of my most favorite modules ever. And the others are not far behind. From the craft's perspective, the 4th module is solid and the attention to lavish detail, the cool creatures and of course, the presence of dragons as both adversaries and allies will lead a sense of empowerment to the PCs. For me, the finale was not as satisfying as it could easily be - however, the remedy is so simple that no DM should be stumped to improve it. In the end, I feel I have to be careful to not hold any installment of Fire Mountain Games' AP to a standard of its own and instead deliver a verdict in the grand context of publications. Not every adventure can do something radically new, after all. Thus, my final verdict for this part of the AP will clock in at 4.5 stars, gladly rounded up to 5 for the purpose of this platform - an excellent module that could use a bit more guidance/epicness in the finale, especially when the conquering in Book III and the escape/march from Valtaerna shows how well author Gary McBride can handle such situations.

Endzeitgeist out.


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The Exchange RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32

Thanks, that's pretty much my first reaction too but I was struggling to put it into words :-)

Context - the bugbears trashed a pile of ships in the harbour of Daveryn. The party have decided they can dredge them up, commandeer the cargo, sell it and then sell the ships. Who's going to stop them? They're murder machines.

Basically that attitude.

Grand Lodge

carborundum wrote:

Thanks, that's pretty much my first reaction too but I was struggling to put it into words :-)

Context - the bugbears trashed a pile of ships in the harbour of Daveryn. The party have decided they can dredge them up, commandeer the cargo, sell it and then sell the ships. Who's going to stop them? They're murder machines.

Basically that attitude.

Okay. Yeah, time’s not on their side in this regard. If they think it is and the undead can be down there eternally gathering stuff, mention how rocky those waves are. Undead don’t have ranks in Swim. Sure would be a shame if they swept out to sea or slammed against the debris.

Who’s going to stop them? Apparently Mother Nature.


Depending on what the cargo was, large parts of it would be ruined by the sea. Grindylows probably stole some of it.
Some things I would ask myself (and the players) before just handing out gold: Why did the bugbears not steal most of the useful cargo, like wine and food before sinking the ships? Why would all the ships in the harbor be full of cargo anyway? Usually the cargo would be offloaded pretty quickly to be sold.
To whom would they be selling the ships? And how? Are they going to sail all the ships themselves to Ghastenhall (or where ever)? Even if they manage to find buyers and deliver the ships they can get like 5000 gp per ship. Not that much for all the time and effort.

Vehicle rules wrote:
Repairing A Vehicle: The fastest and easiest way to repair a vehicle is with the mending and make whole spells, but more mundane methods can also be used. Craft (carpentry) can be used to repair most vehicles made of wood; because of their specialized construction, water vehicles require Craft (ships) to repair. Depending on the nature of the damage, such skills like Craft (cloth), Craft (alchemy), Knowledge (engineering), and even various professions can be used to repair vehicles, if the GM approves. In general, a day’s worth of work by a single person using the appropriate skill to repair a vehicle requires 10 gp of raw material and a DC 10 skill check, and repairs 10 points of damage on a success, or 5 hit points on a failure.

A galley has 1560 hp. If it is so badly damaged that it has been sunk it has been reduced to 0 hp and destroyed at -104 hp. Destroyed vehicles can not be repaired. So it takes one man 156 days and costs 1560 gp in materials to fix a sunken galley. There probably is some spare lumber in the ship yard. Or rather there was because it was partly used by the defenders or burnt for giggles by the goblins. Time to organize a bugbear lumberjack expedition.

In conclusion they should not bother because it is not very cost effective and they probably have better things to do. Like killing the king.

The Exchange RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32

Thanks folks, that calmed them down a bit. The necromancer can teleport via undead and between graveling familiars, his own high skill ranks in sailing and carpentry, and the undead lieutenant spell decided this would be a good way to use the downtime. Also, the module just said the bugbears hate the water and sank everything, without mentioning first offloading cargo or whatever. I'd not described anything in more detali as I hadn't expected them to hit on this idea at all!

We've since moved on to my next situation...

The Exchange RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32

They've not got an actual teleporting wizard, just a (3.5) dread necromancer, so travel is always an issue. Via their organisation they've arranged for an unscrupulous Cap'n and his crew to ship them and a pile of undead to the dragon isle. Lured with money then terrorized not to change their mind, basically. A bit handwavy but I wanted to get to the island - we only play for a few hours every two weeks.

So, they encountered Setia and her elemental chum at sea, killed it and scared her off (literally, with a fear aura). The vampire then flew over the island and spotted the pier and buildings/ clearing. The group still have a few hours to go to get the ship close to shore. They've sent four zombie drakes, with a graveling piloting one of them, to secure the pier, and messaged the fiendish hippogriffs to come to the island.

Now, I reckon Setia will have arrived back on the island and spread the word of a hostile boatload heading this way. What do you suppose Eriamanthus and the consorts and other defenders will do? Stay together for a few days and increase patrols?

Grand Lodge

carborundum wrote:
Now, I reckon Setia will have arrived back on the island and spread the word of a hostile boatload heading this way. What do you suppose Eriamanthus and the consorts and other defenders will do? Stay together for a few days and increase patrols?

Don't forget that this isn't so much a discussion place as much as it is a venue to sell the product, although it's possible we're safe, but spoiler tags should be used for NPCs and whatnot.

Spoiler:
It's been a while, but I seem to recall she's somewhat of a recluse. I absolutely believe she'd immediately warn her lover, who would in turn tell the others to come to his room where they'd wait. He can't really message everyone else, but probably have them on alert. Maybe one round of nonlethal to try take them in for questioning and then lethal from then forward, but any undead would be destroyed immediately. As well, Eriamanthus was under equipped for the battle, but had tons of his stuff in his horde. If his island is under attack, especially undead, everyone is going to be well armed.

Also, PM me your email.

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