Pathfinder Adventure Path #74: Sword of Valor (Wrath of the Righteous 2 of 6) (PFRPG)

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Pathfinder Adventure Path #74: Sword of Valor (Wrath of the Righteous 2 of 6) (PFRPG)
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Chapter 2: "Sword of Valor"
by Neil Spicer

The Wrath of the Righteous Adventure Path continues with “Sword of Valor,” by RPG Superstar Neil Spicer. The PCs, now invested with righteous mythic power, are poised to become the greatest heroes of this seemingly endless war against the demons of the Worldwound… provided they can succeed at their first mission. The citadel city of Drezen was once a symbol of the First Crusade’s triumph against the Worldwound, yet when a larger horde of demons attacked, they shattered Drezen’s defenses and captured both the citadel and the crusaders’ symbol of power. Can the PCs help lead an army north to reclaim Drezen and recover this potent relic, or are they marching their comrades and followers to a gruesome demise?

This volume of Pathfinder Adventure Path continues the Wrath of the Righteous Adventure Path and includes:

  • “Sword of Valor,” a Pathfinder RPG adventure for 6th-level characters with 1 mythic tier, by Neil Spicer.
  • An exploration of the ways cultists stitch themselves to demonkind, by Jason Nelson.
  • A hoard of legendary relics lost to horrors of the Worldwound, by Ron Lundeen.
  • The search for a rogue demon hunter in the Pathfinder’s Journal, by Robin D. Laws.
  • Four new monsters, by James Jacobs, Jason Klimchok, Jason Nelson, and David Schwartz.

Each monthly full-color softcover Pathfinder Adventure Path volume contains an in-depth adventure scenario, stats for several new monsters, and support articles meant to give Game Masters additional material to expand their campaign. Pathfinder Adventure Path volumes use the Open Game License and work with both the Pathfinder RPG and the world’s oldest fantasy RPG.

ISBN–13: 978-1-60125-568-6

Note: This product is part of the Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscription.

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An epic, if somewhat easy, second leg

4/5

Just to get this out of the way, let me start with the following obligatory advice:

Advice on adjusting the difficulty level of this AP:
Before running this AP, I was warned that the power of mythic PCs quickly outpaced the difficulty of the encounters the AP provides. Despite taking a number of precautions to mitigate this (having players use a 10 point-buy, applying advanced templates to every mythic creature, etc), I found this to be true.

In light of our experiences, and those reported on the boards, the consensus seems to be that there are two generally viable ways to deal with these problems:

Option 1: Power-down the PCs.

(a) Don't give the PCs mythic ranks.

(b) [Optional:] Use the Hero Point system introduced in the APG, and give the PCs a number of Hero Points per day equal to the number of mythic ranks they're supposed to have. (This makes players a bit more robust.)

(c) More or less play the AP as is. (Though there are a couple of encounters in book 6 that will probably need to be made a bit easier).

Option 2: Power-up the encounters.

(a) Give the PCs mythic ranks as the AP suggests (possibly with the nerfs suggested in Mythic Solutions).

(b) Use the (vastly) upgraded stat blocks presented in Sc8rpi8n_mjd's modified stat blocks document to upgrade encounters, and then further multiply the HPs given in the stat blocks by something like (creature's mythic rank+3)/3. (For more optimized players you may need to multiply HPs even more.)

Our experience, FWIW: We played books 1-4 more or less as is, and (despite my efforts to boost and combine encounters) found books 3 and 4 to be far too easy to be fun. We then adopted something like option 2 for books 5 and 6, and found that to be much more challenging and enjoyable. But we also found that combat can take forever -- don't be surprised if you find yourself needing to spend more than one session to get through a fight.

The story of this AP is fun, flavorful, and appropriately epic. The PCs get lead armies, march into the Worldwound, and try to reclaim a city from the demons! A much more epic task than the ones usually given to PCs of this level.

That said, we found the encounters in this AP to be on the easy side for mythic PCs, especially once the PCs gain their second mythic rank. The "boss fight" at the end of the AP is a bit more challenging, but not difficult enough to scare the players, or make the outcome in doubt.

--Fun of playing this leg of the AP, as written: 3.5/5
--Fun of the story of this leg of the AP: 4.75/5
--Total score: 4.125/5


The Exciting Adventure Continues...

5/5

Sword of Valor is an enjoyable, worthy sequel to the Worldwound Incursion. The heroic (and now mythic) PCs must help their beloved city by marching into Drezen and reclaiming it for the Crusaders. Drezen is a huge place that offers many exciting encounters, enemies, treasures and chances for the players to prove themselves true champions.

Once again players have the opportunity to connect with their NPC allies from the first chapter, as well as make new friends. The NPCs in Sword of Valor are complex, layered, likeable people. Not all of them are what they seem, and PCs can take a hand in helping them solve their problems and reach their potential. This makes to very interesting story-telling and gives players a chance to develop their own characters as they interact with NPCs.

Mass combat rules start to really come into play at this point. GMs and players who like new challenges may enjoy this feature. Our group did not, so our kind GM managed to work around that part and found that offering more traditional combat rules worked just as well.

Reclaiming the city and citadel are fun victories for the players and their characters. The sword of valor itself is a wonderful artifact that will go a long way to protecting the city of further invasions. This helps the story because players can now go on with their travels and adventures without having to worry about crazy things going on behind their backs.

This adventure has a lot of great story to it and was super fun to play.

Highly recommended!


4/5

DISCLAIMER I've written this review as a player participating in the Wrath of the Righteous adventure path. I have not read the adventure or its backmatter, and so I cannot comment on the quality of the writing or specific mechanical elements of the adventure. Furthermore, it is quite possible that my GM has tweaked parts of the adventure to fit our group of players. I can, however, provide an account of my impressions of the adventure after a successful playthrough.

Also, this review contains spoilers for Wrath of the Righteous #2: Sword of Valor.

With that out of the way, let's see how this adventure performed at the gaming table.

As the second installment in the Wrath of the Righteous adventure path, Wrath of the Righteous #2: Sword of Valor continues the epic story of a righteous crusade launched against the hordes of demons that threaten to undo the world. The demons have been driven from the ruined fortress city of Kenabres, and the momentous events that wrapped up the first book have all but destroyed the wardstones. All is not lost, however, because the heroes are here to save the day, fueled as they are by mythic powers. The question is, did the heroes have fun?

FLUFF
The premise of the adventure is simple: With a mandate granted by Crusader Queen Galfrey, the heroes lead an army of paladins into the Worldwound. Their mission is to deliver the occupied city of Drezen and find the powerful Sword of Valor. As a result, the adventure is divided into three parts: the march through the Worldwound, the assault on the city, and the search for the Sword of Valor.

The first part, the march through the Worldwound was my favorite part of the adventure. It featured everything I hoped it might - mass combat, despair, evil machinations, betrayal, all of it set against the backdrop of the Worldwound. This part of the adventure offered plenty of opportunities for some fun roleplaying, and it gave another glimpse into the wickedness of the demons and their allies. More importantly for me, though, it showcased one of the strengths of the demons in the Pathfinder RPG - their different approaches to the concept of destruction.

It is easy to think of demons as one-trick ponies whose only modus operandi is SMASH KILL MAIM! That would be a mistake, though. During the heroes' march through the Worldwound, their resolve was tested as the forces of evil constantly sought to destroy the army through subtle means. Whispered suggestions and damning words of despair, infiltrations of the army camp, soldiers accusing fellow soldiers of crimes committed by agents of the Abyss.

The mass combat was a mixed affair. I had fun as I took an active part in the planning and execution of the battles. Our GM did a good job describing the battles. However, if you were to ask some of my fellow players, I fear their enthusiasm might not be as profound as mine. It seems to me that the mass combat system created by Paizo lacks something in the sense that, as written, it fails to provide an immersive experience for everyone at the table.

The second part of the adventure, the assault on Drezen, featured more mass combat as our army fought the city's defenders. We spent quite a bit of time debating how best to approach the liberation of Drezen, debates based on intel provided by scouts. Each section of town would grant us certain boons, so it was a matter of us to weigh those boons against the level of resistance present in each section.

For me, this part of the adventure featured one of the higlights of the campaign so far. The annihilation of our army of paladins. The paladins had crushed all resistance with a single army remaining - a band of disorganized cultists. Based on our GM's description, there was no indication that this army would present a significant obstacle, and so our army took to the field. A couple of abysmal dice rolls later, both armies were destroyed. The battle showcased another issue with the mass combat rules. It's entirely too easy for a poor die roll or two to destroy an army.

We turned what I felt was a low point in the campaign into the highlight it became through a great bit roleplaying. 100 men had sacrificed their lives to clear a path to the citadel for us. They had endured through several battles against a determined foe before the onslaught had become too much for even our valiant holy warriors. The impromptu memorial was one of the best roleplaying sequences I can remember enjoying in my many years playing roleplaying games.

Finally our heroes were ready to assault the Citadel of Drezen itself and avenge our fallen brothers-in-arms. This third part of the adventure contained a traditional dungeon crawl, and it started with a bang.

As our heroes approached the citadel, we were attacked by what I can only assume was a mythic chimera. What a fun encounter that was. Very cinematic and against an extremely tough opponent. The citadel had its share of demonic minions as well, and the first real Boss of the campaign - Staunton Vaine - was slain. All in all, the citadel was a relatively traditional dungeon, but enough demon taint was there to give it that extra flavor. I suspect that some of the encounters in the citadel were placed there by our GM, so I won't comment on those, just in case my suspicion is correct.

CRUNCH
As I mentioned earlier, I played through this adventure as a player, and as such I don't have any insight into the mechanical aspects of the adventure. However, I *can* comment on the general level of the challenges that were thrown at our characters. With a couple of exceptions, the encounters in this adventure felt a bit light. I didn't feel that we were really challenged. The exceptions, however, were brutal. The above-mentioned chimera brought my character to negative hit points and for a while we feared it might be a TPK. Another encounter, this one in the citadel itself, resulted in the deaths of two characters.

CONCLUSION
For the most part, Wrath of the Righteous #2: Sword of Valor was absolutely stellar and dripping with flavor. Lots of roleplaying opportunities (including meeting Crusader Queen Galfrey herself), interesting locations, NPCs with incredible depth, and some fun encounters. While this adventure did have a weakness - the mass combat - my overall impression is that this is a very well written adventure. Thank you, Neil Spicer, for another fine installment in the Wrath of the Righteous adventure path.


A mixed bag

3/5

First, I would like to mention the quality issue. I have now finished running the first two parts of Wrath of The Righteous and both books have fallen apart. This is the worst of the two with large sections now falling out. The quality of the binding on these books has been disappointing.

What about the adventure itself? There are a lot of things about it that I like. It has a heroic feel that fits well with the theme and tone of the adventure path. I like the idea of the characters leading the counterattack against the forces of the Worldwound at the start of the 5th Crusade. It does a good job of using the NPCs, both heroic and villainous. There are a lot of good encounters and interesting twists. It sets up Drezen for later books.

There are a couple of things I don't like about it. The mass combat system is a novelty and it is overused early on. Mass combat just isn't that involving for most of the players. Several of the maps in it are very large and expensive to print to scale but largely unused. The Citadel Drezen map was huge and expensive to print but consisted mostly of empty rooms. The Gibbering Swarm map used earlier on is a prime example of a map that is far bigger and more expensive to print that is warranted by the few encounters on it.


Enjoyable thus far, but some issues

3/5

I've been running Wrath of the Righteous for my normal gaming group, and we are enjoying it greatly. The mythic rules are well-liked, for the most part, and the setting is loved. The issues we've had are 1) a lack of stand-alone mythic feats, instead of those augmenting pre-existing standard feats, and 2) the mass combat rules. My group really dislikes them, so I have had to move to a more cinematic description of the battle, with more standard encounters representing their part in it. This has worked well so far, but it was a bit tricky for me to do on the fly as a relatively new GM. This option was recommended in the adventure path itself, but I wish there had been an appendix with stat blocks for those of us who honestly dislike the mass combat rules but aren't so good at balancing encounters on the fly.

I did have what, based on other reviews I have read, is apparently an existing issue. I got the Sword of Valor hard copy and, within a half hour of starting to run the game, the book began to fall apart on me. The first 16 pages came completely out of the book. It was a major irritation, but not one that will prevent me from continuing to use the hard copies of the adventure path. I just wish the quality control was a bit more on the ball.

That said, I highly recommend this adventure path. It is an enjoyable game, with plenty of options for those who want their characters to feel Mythic.


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I don't think there's any specific order it's done in based on when you subscribed etc., I think it more depends on the order the sales software spits out the orders in (I could be wrong, but I thought I'd seen posts from some of the staff to this effect). I know that normally I tend to get my PDFs around 7 days after receiving my first notification email, but in this case I got them on the following business day.

I know that if you add additional stuff to your order during finalisation it can cause delays, though I'm not sure by how much.


How many HD does Shax have and what are its ability scores?


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Starsunder wrote:
How many HD does Shax have and what are its ability scores?

33d10. Ability scores are Str 33, Dex 39, Con 40, Int 30, Wis 31, Cha 31.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Here's my semi-loaded question for the AP devs. Is Queen Galfrey a romance possibility for a PC? I know that technically anything is possible but how much of an impact would it have on the story and would it derail it at all?

Paizo Employee Creative Director

Aaron Scott 139 wrote:
Here's my semi-loaded question for the AP devs. Is Queen Galfrey a romance possibility for a PC? I know that technically anything is possible but how much of an impact would it have on the story and would it derail it at all?

She's not set up as a romance possibility, but that could certainly work. In fact, romances with ANY of the allied NPCs wouldn't derail the AP, although they might derail some NPC relationships...


magnuskn wrote:

Answers for Lawful GM:

** spoiler omitted **

If he is

:
Level eight, shouldn't he have four Mythic tiers as opposed to just two?

Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
Axial wrote:
If he is ** spoiler omitted **

Mythic Tiers are tied to trials rather than to level. Although they are capped at 1 per 2 levels, you can have fewer than half your level in tiers without breaking any core assumptions.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Exactly.


So with that in mind, is he really all that much of a threat?

Paizo Employee Creative Director

Axial wrote:
So with that in mind, is he really all that much of a threat?

Yes... because there's more tools to make a creature a threat than mythic tiers. He's already pretty high level. In the end, it's not mythic tiers that we go on to decide if a creature's a good threat for an encounter—it's the creature's CR that we use. And mythic tiers are a subset of LOTS of things that help to define the final CR.


I can see that. He's probably got some excellent gear and a demon posse to back him up.


Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber
Axial wrote:
I can see that. He's probably got some excellent gear and a demon posse to back him up.

Yes he had PC gear and 25 point buy.

Also I haven't yet gotten to his encounter, but I'm sure the circumstances are tilted in his favor as well.


I wonder why Shax can't fly given a pair of nice-feathered wings.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

Aliasalias wrote:
I wonder why Shax can't fly given a pair of nice-feathered wings.

Ugh. Frustrating typo, that's why.

He should have a fly speed. He did, at least, in my original turnover: fly 50 ft. (perfect).

I think I know where in the development>layout>edit cycle he lost it, and will make sure that isn't repeated in the future if I can.

(Note his fly skill remains intact.)


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

What are the CRs of the non-Shax monsters? What's the CR-adjustment on the template?

Also, question for James... will there be any monsters in the bestiaries for this AP besides Bamophet that have names starting in A, B or C, which would mean they may actually get featured on my Planescape blog sometime this year?

Argg... Hurry up Wednesday, get here faster!


Demon, thoxel - CR 5
Man-eating animal - CR +1 (1-4 HD), CR +2 (5-10 HD), CR +3 (11+ HD)
Vescavor queen - CR 9


Oops, I see. BTW, The bonus to AC and Saves from Unholy Aura seem to be missing on the stat block.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

FallenDabus wrote:

What are the CRs of the non-Shax monsters? What's the CR-adjustment on the template?

Also, question for James... will there be any monsters in the bestiaries for this AP besides Bamophet that have names starting in A, B or C, which would mean they may actually get featured on my Planescape blog sometime this year?

Argg... Hurry up Wednesday, get here faster!

Not sure. That's more of an Adam question... although I do know we'll be doing cambions in #76.


j b 200 wrote:
Axial wrote:
I can see that. He's probably got some excellent gear and a demon posse to back him up.

Yes he had PC gear and 25 point buy.

Also I haven't yet gotten to his encounter, but I'm sure the circumstances are tilted in his favor as well.

That would make him CR 10 altogether am I right?


Lawful GM wrote:
j b 200 wrote:
Axial wrote:
I can see that. He's probably got some excellent gear and a demon posse to back him up.

Yes he had PC gear and 25 point buy.

Also I haven't yet gotten to his encounter, but I'm sure the circumstances are tilted in his favor as well.

That would make him CR 10 altogether am I right?

Minimum CR 10. They might've also given him some special abilities a la Baba Yaga to boost his CR.


I must be fair, i'm not a huge fan of this one.

I don't like it that most encounters are from bestiary 1, I hate tieflings (always have) and the artstyle is good but very annoying to work with as the artwork is missing part of their wings and when you work with them in Paint Shop the artwork has white dots around it very annoying and time consuming to remove those, mostly those dots are from the same artists, they do that to copyprotect I guess but I only use the art for myself...

I really really like Shax the demon lord tho, the man-eating animal art is cool and the wasp monster is awesome, but the wings are missing for a bit...

I hope next part has less bestiary 1 encounters and more bestiary 2,3, and other book encounters.


I have read this one a few times now and every time I come away liking the story more and more. There is really a lot of potential in this AP so far in terms of background, plot and motivations.

I may have a new favorite AP.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Holy crap. I'm loving the 10 acts of Iomedae listed in her book.


Just now going over this, and have just started part 3, but I have to say I absolutely love the way the Mass combat rules were interwoven into this chapter.

I'm also enjoying the different tactics and ways to use the NPCs in part 3; it keeps them pertinent without overwhelming the PCs roles, gives bonuses to PCs for smart tactical use, and just generally enhances the game all around. I love this! Kudos to Neil Spicer and/or James Jacobs for the idea.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

Cool; glad you're enjoying the NPC boons and the like. That's something that was a kind of a late addition to the AP and is something I've been working to weave into each adventure during development, so it's good to see it's working out! :-)


I am really a fan of having where you choose to allocate NPC's having an impact (sometimes fairly significantly) on encounters.

There are consequences to how you treat NPC's, which is awesome.

I had a real chuckle reading this adventure knowing that the author had to account for the possibility that some parties might take Horgus with them into Drezen keep itself..

That fact that Neil did shows real thinking going into this path. It's early days still but this path is quickly lining up to take pole position over CoTCT as my favorite if the quality stays this good.


Black Dougal wrote:
I had a real chuckle reading this adventure knowing that the author had to account for the possibility that some parties might take Horgus with them into Drezen keep itself..

Yes- This was a laugh out loud moment for me, as well. I could just envision the rp scenario around this. "Ummm... maybe I should just stay outside...?"

The fact that it is (rightfully so) more beneficial to have that occur only adds to the innovation.

I also like that they are not unlimited boons, but have a quantifiable limit. That helps to impel a sense of urgency to the PCs, plus keeps things more realistic and less ripe for abuse.


Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

Did anyone else think that Arles Jhestander (pg.16) look alot like Sylvester Stallone?


Shax is just ... awesome...


I found myself in love with the Vescavor Queen.

Which is kinda strange since i'm gay, have a phobia for wasps and she would probably kill me twice and eat my bones. :-)

Liberty's Edge

I have a question regarding Mythic Trials and Mythic Tier progression.

Sword of Valor:
I count three trials in this volume, Soltengrebbe, Staunton Vhane, and Eustoyriax. Should players end this at Level 9 Mythic Tier 4? Does every trial result in a mythic tier during the AP? How do you decide if a mythic trial results in a tier boost if not? The descriptive text for volume III Demon's Heresy indicates players should be Level 9 Mythic Tier 3 at it's start.

Thanks.


Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Society Subscriber

In the mythic adventures book you have a table that shows how many trials you need to complete in order to get the next tier.

sword of valor:
In this book, PCs start with one mythic tier.

Defeating Soltengrebbe counts as a trial, and gives the PC their second tier.

To get a third tier, you have to complete two trials: defeating Staunton and defeating Eustoyriax/recovering the sword of valor.

Liberty's Edge

Thanks, I am still debating whether to run a mythic campaign or not. Was still mostly looking at it from a beta rules perspective.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I finally got through a backlog of books to finish reading most of this today. I like the book and how the AP is going so far.

I do have a minor problem with it though. It's not a big deal as they can easily be eliminated without too much disruption. I don't like the concept of the medals that the characters can earn. At best they need many more ways each one can be earned or to just be given out by GM fiat based on what seems sensible. Otherwise they are just too metagamey a concept in my opinion and encourage people to artificially try and do things in the game they might not otherwise do based on quirks of game mechanics just for the sake of earning one.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

When I first heard this adventure path was coming out, I had to buy it, I have a friend who's first pick is always paladin, so I knew he would fall in love with this right away.
I did something a little different. I was only going to have 3 people play so I let them become gestalt characters, it's giving the adventures an even more epic feel to them.

The only question I have, is about when you are presented the army, and the PC's are given the option of leading it. It's stated that they do not get any starting boons. Well considering they most likely grew up in Kenebres, I would think leading armies would be in their everyday experiance. I'm thinking of just letting them get their boons.

I haven't had an adventure where I as a gm have looked forward to running an adventure as the players had playing in it.

Jason


Jason Jensen 431 wrote:
The only question I have, is about when you are presented the army, and the PC's are given the option of leading it. It's stated that they do not get any starting boons. Well considering they most likely grew up in Kenebres, I would think leading armies would be in their everyday experiance. I'm thinking of just letting them get their boons.

I haven't read the adventure yet, but here's my take on your musings. Living in a city like Kenabres does NOT automatically mean you experience what it means to lead an army. You get exposed to a military-minded mindset, sure, and the probably of you joining an army in some fashion is very likely. However, being a part of an army and leading it are two VERY different beasts, I think. Leadership is certainly not an "everyday experience," that the average Kenabres citizen can expect to experience.

Even among those souls destined to rise to glory, such as the characters, leadership is not necessarily something they've experienced prior to their adventures in Wrath of the Righteous. Being a part of a military endeavor, very likely. Leading that military endeavor, not as likely.

Leading men into war is not for everyone. It takes talent, charisma, influence, or zeal (or all four).


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Yep I understand that, but he has taken points in profession (military), he's a pally, and He may have taken the leadership feat, he's kind of "built" his character for this moment.

He's even tried to be the leader for the party as well. I could understand if one of the other players wanted to just jump in and lead the army, who didn't spend the skill points or feats for leadership, why they wouldn't get the extra boons.

It's going to be a game master exception.


I'm a lil confused. How do my players learn new army tactics when they have no kingdom control DC?


jimibones83, check out page 236 of Ultimate Campaign, the sidebar there will help out a lot!! I just found it yesterday, and I have been searching for a solution for a week, my players will make it to the second book here soon and I wanted to be prepared.

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