Pathfinder Adventure Path #75: Demon's Heresy (Wrath of the Righteous 3 of 6) (PFRPG)

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Pathfinder Adventure Path #75: Demon's Heresy (Wrath of the Righteous 3 of 6) (PFRPG)
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Chapter 3: "Demon's Heresy"
by Jim Groves

The Wrath of the Righteous Adventure Path continues with “Demon's Heresy,” by Jim Groves. After reclaiming the city of Drezen and recovering the lost sacred banner known as the Sword of Valor, the heroes have established a significant foothold behind enemy lines. With the demon armies still concentrating their attacks to the south, the heroes must now set off into the heart of the Worldwound to seek out powerful new allies and strike a mortal blow against the Templars of the Ivory Labyrinth—but in doing so, they discover a disturbing truth about the crystalline source of mythic power the demons have been using against the crusaders. Will the heroes survive the terrors of the Worldwound long enough to end the demons’ increasing attacks?

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

  • “Demon’s Heresy,” a Pathfinder RPG adventure for 9th-level characters with 3 mythic tiers, by Jim Groves.
  • A study of the Green Faith, an ancient philosophy revolving around nature, by Sean K Reynolds.
  • A look at the unnatural horrors known as worms that walk, by Amanda Hamon.
  • A journey to a crusader outpost inside the Worldwound in the Pathfinder’s Journal, by Robin D. Laws.
  • Four new monsters, by Jim Groves, Amanda Hamon, and James Jacobs.

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: 978-1-60125-577-8

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

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A fun, if unchallenging, third leg

3/5

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 was pretty good -- with a sandbox exploration of a demonic landscape, and a very memorable NPC who can join the party -- but it didn't have as epic a feel as the second leg of this AP.

We found the encounters in this AP to be far too easy for mythic PCs, especially given the 1/day encounter-rate that hexploration lends itself to. (I combined all of the encounters at Arueshalae's Redoubt into one encounter, and combined the Ivory Sanctum encounters in 3 big encounters, and the PCs still had little difficult plowing through them.)

--Fun of playing this leg of the AP, as written: 2/5
--Fun of the story of this leg of the AP: 4.5/5
--Total score: 3.25/5


Character's Backstories Come Alive

5/5

Wrath of the Righteous continues to be a fantastic story. Demon’s Heresy isn’t as intense or as high stakes as the two previous chapters in the campaign, but it is still equally engaging and offers big opportunities for story and character development.

Wrath of the Righteous character traits pay off in big ways I never expected. I was playing a PC with the Touched By Divinity trait who was shocked and delighted to learn the news of her heritage. What a wonderful twist that was! Other characters also had interesting revelations about themselves depending on which traits they’d chosen. I was really impressed by the way each PC was given a personal story arc in this chapter that fit in so well to the overall adventure path. It was so enjoyable to play through.

This chapter also introduced Arueshalae, my favorite NPC of the entire campaign. What a strong, complex, loveable character she is! Her heartfelt desire to redeem herself is truly inspirational, and the love she shares with her chosen PC is really sweet.

Once again the artwork through the book is fantastic. There are interesting and challenging villains who are a pleasure to defeat. Lots of unique and pretty magical items, too.

Highly recommended!


a Hexceptional adventure!

3/5

Well, we get to the third part of the campaign. The PCs already saved a city and conquered a fortress, they blasted wardstones in the face of thousands of demons and retrieved a long lost artifact.

And now, they are reduced to roaming the worldwound and hoping something interesting would pop up in front of them.

I have now read 5 out of the 6 adventures in the campaign, and I feel like I have a good picture of it's general shape in mind. And I must say that this is the adventure where I feel the story maybe lost it's direction a bit.

The two previous adventures were about starting things off, and they did a really good job of it. By the end of the first adventure the scene was set for a new crusade, with the PCs standing firm in the front lines. By the second adventure the PCs already took an active part in the new war. But now? now nothing much is happening. Even though a war is supposedly raging in the near vicinity, the environment around the PCs does not really seem to react to it. This adventure is really kind of just a tour of the worldwound, more than it really is part of the campaign.
By the end of the adventure, the PCs spent their time walking around and bumping into numerous little encounters without getting anything important accomplished. Eventually they just happen to run into an encounter that is important, but really all the intermediate little stories could have been skipped. In later adventures the PCs will run around doing very important things, but the larger picture is missing. So much story momentum is lost here that I feel the entire campaign is a bit awkward after it.

Maybe it's my personal dislike of sandbox adventures, maybe not, I just feel that the players are going to spend so much time touring and sightseeing in this third part of the AP that by the time the actual story of the campaign kicks back in they might be a bit cold for it.

All in all, the weakest part of the AP, if for no other reason than it's non-significance from a story telling point of view. For those who like a sandbox, though, this one is as good as any Iv'e ever seen.


4/5

Read my full review on Of Dice and Pen.

Demon’s Heresy is a welcome change of pace for the Wrath of the Righteous adventure path. After the urgency of the first two volumes, it allows the PCs to breathe a little (just a little) as they secure their hold on Drezen and the surrounding lands. While they do this, the PCs also have the opportunity to make a powerful new ally and score a major blow against the demon forces. All things considered, Wrath of the Righteous continues to surprise me with just how good it is.


Great book, great adventure

5/5

This is a great addition to the adventure which is fantastic. I'm having a problem with the interactive maps in the PDF though, since they won't print with the grids, and stangely this one for once has a map with a hex grid rather than the standard squares. I have to say it does have by far my favorite NPC, I just have to make sure I lay the proper ground work for her introduction.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Anybody got her/his issue already and wants to spoil things? ^^


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Still in pending limbo *sadface*

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

So anyone have this yet?

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 4

Kevin Mack wrote:
So anyone have this yet?

I have not actually seen any poster make any mention of receiving any subscription item yet. I've been watching, for obvious reasons, and because I am a subscriber to most of the book product lines.

:/

Grand Lodge

Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Jim Groves wrote:
Kevin Mack wrote:
So anyone have this yet?

I have not actually seen any poster make any mention of receiving any subscription item yet. I've been watching, for obvious reasons, and because I am a subscriber to most of the book product lines.

:/

I got my "shipped" email about an hour ago, but I'm at work so I can't download for another couple hours.

-Skeld


Pathfinder Adventure Subscriber

I could do it for you ;)

(Actually, I'm supposed to play this, so I'd better stop checking this thread about now.)


WHOOOO!! Just got my notice!! :DD

EDIT: dat Sifkesh...

Just imagine a walking Nine Inch Nails-pumping boombox, and you won't be far off.

Scarab Sages

Pathfinder Card Game, Lost Omens, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

I.

LOVE.

THIS.

CHARACTER.

Spoiler:
Arueshalae is awesome. That is all.


Tirisfal wrote:

WHOOOO!! Just got my notice!! :DD

EDIT: dat Sifkesh...

Just imagine a walking Nine Inch Nails-pumping boombox, and you won't be far off.

Stats and HD of Sifkesh?


Tirisfal wrote:


EDIT: dat Sifkesh...

Amen! Kudos to those making the demon lords. These guys are fantastic.

Sifkesh:

Medium CR28

AC 49/43/36
HP 666! (31d10)
F/R/W 30/33/30
Regen 30(Mythic or Deific)

Str 32, Dex 35, Con 42, Int 33, Wis 29, Cha 36

Abilities(Here's where the insanity turns up to 11)
Immune to Edged Weapons (Ex) Sifkesh is immune to all forms of slashing damage and bleed effects. (This ain't DR folks, you just straight up can't hurt her. Another of her abilities makes her immune to an effect that severs limbs or heads. No vorpal for you!)

Critical Healing (Ex) Critical hits cause Sifkesh to experience a sudden rush of energy and healing. Any additional damage dealt to Sifkesh by a critical hit actually heals her of that amount of damage rather than harming her. This damage applies simultaneously to the attack’s normal damage, and can prevent her from being slain if the damage from the normal attack would otherwise have been enough to kill her. Sifkesh takes no damage at all (but neither does she gain healing) from critical hits she or her allies deal to her—only attempts to actually damage her can heal her in this way. Whenever Sifkesh is healed of any damage in this manner, she becomes hasted for 1 round. Sifkesh takes normal damage from sneak attacks and other precision-based damage.(Heheheh!)

Despairing Cry (Su) Once every 1d4 rounds as a swift action, Sifkesh can unleash a soul-rending mournful scream that affects all creatures in a 60-foot-radius spread. A creature in this area must attempt a successful DC 38 Will save or be overcome by suicidal despair—on a successful save, a creature is merely sickened for 1d4 rounds. A creature fully affected by this special attack takes a –6 penalty on attack rolls, saving throws, ability checks, skill checks, and weapon damage rolls, and cannot gain the benefit of any morale bonus for 24 hours. A creature that is normally immune to fear loses that ability while under the effects of despairing cry, and can be ordered to take obviously suicidal acts while under the influence of effects like charm person, dominate person, and suggestion. The effects of multiple despairing cries do not stack. This is a mind-affecting sonic curse effect. The save DC is Charisma-based. (Barbarian, despair!)

Suicide (Su) Once per day as an immediate action, Sifkesh can drop her defenses when attacked by a foe. She is treated as flat-footed for this attack, loses her profane bonus to her AC and spell resistance, and automatically fails any saving throws against that attack. If this attack kills her, she immediately utters her despairing cry (even if she’s already used it within the previous 1d4 rounds). Any creatures affected by this particular despairing cry are also stunned for 1d4 rounds. One round after she commits suicide, Sifkesh automatically comes back to life, as if affected by true resurrection. (Where is your god now?)


Lloyd Jackson wrote:
Tirisfal wrote:


EDIT: dat Sifkesh...

Amen! Kudos to those making the demon lords. These guys are fantastic.

** spoiler omitted **...

Holy crap that's awesome

Paizo Employee Creative Director

1 person marked this as a favorite.

YAY! Glad folks are digging the demon lords and Arueshalae! Both being characters I've been eager to get into print for a LONG time... glad to have an area where they fit and make sense!


This trend is disturbing. Every subsequent demon lord has pretty much been more horrible (in the disturbing, OMG WHY DOES IT DO THAT way) than the last. I don't want to imagine (well yes, I do...but) what Deskari can pull off.


MMCJawa wrote:
This trend is disturbing. Every subsequent demon lord has pretty much been more horrible (in the disturbing, OMG WHY DOES IT DO THAT way) than the last. I don't want to imagine (well yes, I do...but) what Deskari can pull off.

These guys are the deific personifications of EVIL and SIN. If they aren't portrayed as being totally nightmarish in battle, then Paizo is not doing their jobs. I've never really done any high-level play, so I can't judge how hard these guys would be to take down. But Sifkesh just looks abominable.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

That said... I do think that Sifkesh, Shax, and Nocticula are the ones that are probably the most horrible. But they all have their charms!


The demon lords are all awesome so far. Out of the ones I've seen and know of, Sifkesh seems one of the nastiest. Having said that, I haven't seen any of the Bestiary 4 demon lords, and we still have 4-6 of the War of the Righteous AP.


I'm looking forward to Baphomet, myself. I can't wait to see what kind of tricks that goat-headed freak has up his sleeves. :)


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Just got this and read through most of it. Holy crap Paizo! You're seriously upping the ante on every one of these adventures! Seriously impressed. I love what you've done with the campaign traits in this one and hope to see more of it. They might only be side quests overall, but the impact each has is going to make for some amazing memories.

Also Arueshalae's art is absolutely awesome. Definitely my favourite by far from what we've seen so far!


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Downloading! 10secs to go!


Aleron wrote:

Just got this and read through most of it. Holy crap Paizo! You're seriously upping the ante on every one of these adventures! Seriously impressed. I love what you've done with the campaign traits in this one and hope to see more of it. They might only be side quests overall, but the impact each has is going to make for some amazing memories.

Also Arueshalae's art is absolutely awesome. Definitely my favourite by far from what we've seen so far!

So what's the quest/adventure deal for Touched by Divinity? How does it resolve itself, and does the trait upgrade any further than it already has?


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Society Subscriber

How many mythic enemies are in the adventure?. Are the encounters interesting? Thanks.


What are the monsters in here? + Little discription if its not too much asked already :-p

Thanks


How do the trait back stories resolve?

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 4

2 people marked this as a favorite.

Hey folks, I "do " know some of the trait resolutions as a matter of inside knowledge.

Before any one posts them here... I would definitely hide them behind spoiler tags. They're meant to surprise and thrill players, let's not spoil that for the players, especially in the general product thread. Please at least use spoiler tags!


Mine is still pending....
Nooooooooooooooooooo!


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Monsters in this Bestiary:

Shachath = demon focused on blasphemy, with the ability to hijack a cleric's spellcasting. Resembles a weird back to back fusion of typical demon with angel

Demon Lord, Sifkesh

Drocha Swarm = roaming Undead swarm formed from the spirits of those who died violently in the fall of Sarkoris; resemble a swarm of toothy faces

The Fallen = undead crusaders who wish to be laid to rest and can make PC's do that

The Worm that Walks article also includes a statted up variant using locusts instead of worms


Is there more than one worm that walks in the adventure or is it just Xanthir?

Is Xanthir Mythic or is he just high level.


4 people marked this as a favorite.

Going to try answer most of these...

MAJOR Book 3 Spoilers!:

Xanthir is the only worm that walks in the adventure itself (they have another detailed in the back section plus variants for them like cockroaches and other bugs). As for Xanthir himiself, he's...tough. Really tough. Both Mythic and HIGH level (16 I think off hand). They have a half of a page devoted to what his tactics generally are. Very complex enemy and makes use of mythic spellcasting to some pretty devastating effect.

Many encounters appear very interesting! I didn't count the mythic foes, but there are quite a few. Doing a quick count...

...Okay, I'm surprised. Some I thought were mythic were not. There are four characters/creatures that are mythic from my quick count. Xanthir (Worm that Walks, CR 16!!!), Jerribeth (Glabrezu), Vorimeraak (Vrock), and Arueshalae (Redeemed Succubus). All are given a lot of information and should be tough battles (minus Aru obviously, but she does present her own challenges...).

That said, the CRs for the encounters that are not mythic are pretty darn high and should at least still be somewhat challenging. One that comes to mind is a really nasty Woundwyrm for instance.

Each of the campaign traits has a specific quest tied to it. These quests are important since they count for a mythic trial for the PC in question. They are all pretty epic, but since Touched By Divinity was asked specifically...I'll include it for an example.

It involves the party, stumbling upon a Fane to the associated Deity. The Ivory Templars have taken the place over. That PC feels an anger and drawing them to cleanse the place essentially and gains a bonus as long as he is attempting to clean the place out (bonus to attack/damage I think).

So they give him a good reason to go in there and wipe the place clean. The final fight involves a nasty summoner and her eidolon (level 11 with a cool picture included of both and her other minions).

If Paizo/developer doesn't mind I really want to include this quote (feel free to edit it out if you mind, but I thought it was REALLY cool):
"If any of the PCs has the Touched by Divinity campaign trait, when they defeat the Templars and Zanedra in the fane, a staggering thing occurs. The entire structure suddenly begins to shake and vibrate, and light and energy coruscates over the walls and statues in the complex. As the PCs watch, the defiled structure reverts—its wall carvings and statues regain their original appearance before the fall of Sarkoris. The PC who has the Touched by Divinity campaign trait glows with this same energy, and that PC alone can see the agents of his deity as they move about the fane, reworking the statues and carvings. One of these minions appears before that player at the end of the event to personally thank him. This minion is visible to all party members, and all can hear the minion’s revelation that the PC’s deity has been waiting for this moment to reveal the truth of his heritage—the PC is the child of the deity. At your discretion, the deity’s herald may even manifest before the player to deliver this message.

PS: You ROCK, Jim!

I do have one question for Jim/James or whoever can answer it:

Question:
Is it intended for Zanedra (Summoner) to be able to have her eidolon summoned and summon more with her spell-like abilities and other spells? The tactics seem to indicate this and from my understanding it is not normally possible. Clarification please?

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 4

@ Aleron,

Thank you. It was a team effort between developer and author though, I assure you. James added content I could not because his role gives him insights and advantages that aren't available to authors because some content is being written simultaneously. That's normal. I am very pleased you like it however.

I don't think this needs a spoiler, but yes.. not every challenge for a mythic character needs to be a mythic monster. Sometimes we just use DAMN HARD monsters.

As for your questions, I have to defer to James, as some of them pertain to sections he worked on.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

One question in general for this AP: will those who are not buying the AP (in hope of some day actually getting a chance to play it) be able to get their hands on the demon lord stats in a later publication?


Bellona wrote:
One question in general for this AP: will those who are not buying the AP (in hope of some day actually getting a chance to play it) be able to get their hands on the demon lord stats in a later publication?

With any luck, they'll get posted on D20pfsrd.

Silver Crusade

Probably on the Archives of Nethys site as well.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

5 people marked this as a favorite.
Bellona wrote:
One question in general for this AP: will those who are not buying the AP (in hope of some day actually getting a chance to play it) be able to get their hands on the demon lord stats in a later publication?

We have no plans at this point of reprinting the demon lord stats any time soon.

But I would LOVE to eventually do a book that stats them ALL.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

Aleron wrote:

Going to try answer most of these...

** spoiler omitted **...

yeah... Either go with her eidolon or her summoned creatures. Not both. Summoners are complicated.


Summoners can use summon monster spells while their eidolons are out, but not their summon monster spell-like ability.


Thanks! I actually hadn't realized that either. Very helpful!


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Aleron wrote:

Going to try answer most of these...

** spoiler omitted **...

That's awesome! Can you tell us anything about the stolen fury trait? I have a couple of players who have linked their background through it. Thanks!

Dark Archive

Someone said wrote:
But I would LOVE to eventually do a book that stats them ALL.

I'd be interested in that!

I'll throw out an early request that it also stats up the nascent and dead ones.


Stolen Fury:

Stolen Fury revolves around the mythic Vrock previously mentioned (stated per mythic adventurers though with a REALLY nasty scythe). Essentially this vrock performs a ritual (one very familiar to the PC with the trait) that can turn unwilling mortals into demons. It's possible for the party to witness/interrupt the ritual in question. The ritual the PC was involved in went wrong and instead gave them a touch of demonic power instead of changing them.

The reason the PCs need to engage the Vrock? Retrievers eventually start stealing NPC allies (it suggests ones the party has grown close to so you could expect Anevia, Horgus, Irabeth, or other more personal ones) when the baddies begin to figure out that the PCs are not to be trifled with...to turn said NPCs into demons against them if they aren't timely in their rescue.

Another of the ones I'm really looking forward to running for my own group!


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Aleron wrote:
** spoiler omitted **

Holy crow that is awesome! Especially since my PCs that took that trait are a Motherless Tiefling Paladin and the Aasimar cleric that set him towards redemption. Wow, that's going to play out interestingly!

Do any of the others tie into preexisting encounters as well? What is Child of the Crusades like?


What is the story for the Guardian Path Trait. How did the character get stronger from near death experience.


4 people marked this as a favorite.

I just wanted to say that the artwork in the foreword of Arueshalae kneeling at a statue of Desna, surrounded by glowing blue butterflies, is really beautiful.


Just looke through the PDF....
Give the preview at the end, let's say I can't wait for part 4 The Midnight Isles!


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I can't wait until my order this month stops pending.


Thanks, Aleron! That information was awesome!

I would really appreciate it if someone posted the resolutions of the 4 remaining campaign traits in spoiler tags. I start this AP Saturday and will begin by hammering details in their backstories, and I want to anticipate these developments and avoid contradicting these resolutions unnecessarily.


Would post more but I don't have access to my pdf at the moment and my memory is a bit rusty (plus things have got a bit busy). I only can remember one of the others vaguely (and didn't actually look at two yet since they weren't relevant to my personal group).

Riftwarden Orphan:

I can't recall exact specifics on this one, but they do find out what happened to the parents (they died) and also what mission they were on when they did. Aravashnial actually is the one that looks into it for them and presents the basic information and the area they have to go.

It turns out their parents left them some sort of legacy (a magic item the DM gets to choose based on the character)...the twist being (if I'm recalling correctly) it is hidden away in the place where Xanthir is holed up in.

So yeah, it ties into the final encounters of the module suffice to say cause you don't want to assault that place too early or it's going to gib the party.

So they get to pursue revenge against the one that stole their parents away and recover something that will hopefully bring some solace to their loss.


Still pending.......................................................

Liberty's Edge

Can anyone please give me some info about Arueshalae's background?


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Dunno about the others, but I somehow got the Bladerunner (Do androids dream of electric sheep?) vibes reading her background...

Ruyan.


Spoiler:
So now we know why demons are so evil! They are just cranky from the lack of sleep!!

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