Pathfinder Adventure Path #136: Temple of the Peacock Spirit (Return of the Runelords 4 of 6)

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Pathfinder Adventure Path #136: Temple of the Peacock Spirit (Return of the Runelords 4 of 6)

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Defy the Cult

The mysterious cult of the Peacock Spirit has risen in force, and the time is right to strike a decisive blow against the worshipers of this long-forgotten god. According to ancient texts, the cult of the Peacock Spirit was first brought to this world by none other than Runelord Xanderghul himself, and with his return, it only grows more dangerous. Nestled high in a remote valley in the daunting Kodar Mountains, the cult's stronghold is known as the Temple of the Peacock Spirit. The heroes must journey to this legendary site and confront one of Thassilon's most dangerous threats.

This volume of Pathfinder Adventure Path continues the Return of the Runelords Adventure Path and includes:

  • "Temple of the Peacock Spirit," a Pathfinder adventure for 11th-level characters, by Jason Keeley.
  • An examination of the asuras, a race of vengeful fiends born from the mistakes of the gods themselves, by John Compton.
  • A presentation of several powerful occult rituals created by the runelords of Thassilon, by James Jacobs and Luis Loza.
  • A bestiary of monsters, including two new and powerful asuras, the lumbering guardians of nature known as basavans, the serpentine monstrosities known as bollas, and the enigmatic and deadly time dimensional, by Dan Cascone, John Compton, Nathan King, and Luis Loza.

ISBN-13: 978-1-64078-091-0

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

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A Disappointing and Acute Regression in the AP

1/5

Given my dissatisfaction with this module, I'll forgo an intro and dive right in.

Part 1: Fresh off their defeat of Runelord Zutha's fragment on an island of Xin, the PCs are contacted via Dream by Sorshen, who congratulates them and asks to meet. Fast forward to an apparent meeting the PCs have with Sorhsen's Blood Simulacrum. Where does this take place? Who knows. The module completely glosses over this.

During this meeting, Sorshen asks the PCs to kill Runelord Xanderghul. Why? Because although Alaznist killed him and Sorshen felt it, she just /knows/ that Xanderghul wouldn't let death stop him. So how to begin? Well, travel to the Temple of the Peacock Spirit of course. Nevermind that nobody knew that Xanderghul /was/ the Peacock Spirit. Very immersion-breaking.

But hold the phone, before traveling to the Temple, Sorshen sends the PCs to theTherassic Library in Jorgenfist, to research the Peacock Cult. Fast forward to Jorgenfist, the trip to which is - once again - completely glossed over. Outside the library, the PCs encounter a Time Dragon ousted from the Dimension of Time. He keeps flashing forward and backward through time, unless the PCs attack him. Then, due to his "anger", everyone experiences time normally. This entire section is a muddled mess and feels completely unnecessary.

Once inside the library, the PCs find everything frozen in time. Shades of prior inhabitants can be seen in some rooms, and in others, time ripples mar the architecture. Yet, somehow, there's a clockwork assassin left over from Thassilon (10,000 years ago) apparently immune to the time disruption. In the library, the PCs discover a valuable book. This entire section again seems immersion-breaking, as if no attention to detail was paid, and has an "anything goes" feel. The entire "time distortion" feels more a plot contrivance than an actual part of the world.

Once the PCs take this tome out of the library, the temporal disturbances cease. They are then confronted by Hounds of Tindalos. Once those are vanquished, the party conducts research in the library. Not a strong start to the module. Combat feels forced, very few role-playing opportunities, plot contrivances abound, and travel is glossed over.

Part 2: Cultists in the Clouds

Using a ritual found in the book from the library, the PCs teleport to the Peacock Temple high in the Kodar Mountains. They first encounter medusa guards. This is a hum-drum encounter and a letdown. I hate what they've done with medusas. What should be an epic and mythical creature has been reduced to just another race. The art makes them simply look like humans with snakes for hair.

Next, what would be an otherwise interesting encounter with dueling hobgoblin and wereboar guards feels completely out of place and nonsensical in this context. This is all followed by an encounter with an evil (??) treant. Finally, the PCs face off against shining children and a scaled-back mother of oblivion.

Part 2 was a disappointment. The whole premise of the other runelords helping Xanderghul build this complex doesn't make sense, nor does it make sense that he'd trust them or even need their assistance. What's more, the current denizens of the complex feel like they're just sitting there, waiting for the PCs to encounter them. This breaks immersion, and hinders the Temple from feeling like a living, breathing location.

Part 3: Pride's Heart

The sense of everyone's existence merely being for the PCs benefit continues in this section, with bland encounters in the Temple's heart. The library is notably poor. It's supposed to be an amazing repository of knowledge, yet no specific books are mentioned other than "a few copies of the Pathfinder journal". Yet, the module than spends paragraphs going into detail about the soulbound shell temple librarian. *shakes head sadly*

The nonsense continues when the party meets with the High Priestess, Zuria. She offers them a great treasure if they can lift on the curse on paintings in the art gallery, something she could easily do herself. The Priestess then attempts to convert the party to the Peacock Spirit. Unfortunately, the adventure does not provide detail about the Peacock Spirit faith for some reason...

Pressing on, the PCs descend to the "Dungeon of Fiery Fury", apparently named by somebody's child. The PCs discover some ancient skeletons, still intact, preserved by the power of their souls (?). These aren't undead, mind you, though detect undead says they are. If the PCs release these trapped souls of Pharasmin worshippers, they are rewarded by Pharasma's blessing, and also by somehow knowing that the ancient Pharasmins were seeking to prove that Xanderghul was actually the Peacock Spirit. *rolls eyes* Ham-handed plot reveal.

In yet another example of nonsense, there's a prisoner who's been kept here for thousands of years (don't worry, he's fine). Apparently Xanderghul had /no idea/ that this prisoner suspected the Peacock Spirit may be Xanderghul, despite a major reason for this prison being built was to house those who suspected this truth. The text even reads that if Xanderghul had suspected, he would have had this prisoner killed. Frustratingly ridiculous writing and indicative of the lack of creativity by the writer in communicating plot reveals.

Once they've defeated the Head Jailer / Inquistor, the PCs descend into the "Vault of Crimson Longing" (who comes up with these cheesy names?). Here, they run through a series of hum-drum encounters with giants, who - again - seem to be just sitting around waiting for the PCs to show up and fight them. In one especially galling instance, a fire giant is actually simply sitting in a chair, sighing and staring at a painting when the PCs encounter him. This entire complex is where Xanderghul turned giants into slaves. It makes no sense that he would have this under the Peacock Temple, which he didn't want associated with him. Another example of poor writing. This writer seems to be just throwing spaghetti on the wall at this point.

Finally, the party descends into the "Refuge of Violet Vanity" (extra cheese with that please) where Xanderghul resurrected after being slain by Alaznist. It's here that he's recovering his powers whilst being attended to by his shadow servants This is the most interesting of the module's locations, with Xanderghul liable to be encountered in any room, and information given both if he's prepared or distracted.

Lack of attention to detail becomes evident: in an arcane laboratory filled with notebooks, no detail is provided about the notebooks PCs will inevitably wish to look through. In a library filled with ancient books, not one is detailed, other than a generic magic item.

Convenient plot contrivances also rear their ugly heads: the party encounters a creation of Xanderghul, a shadow librarian who has developed her own personality and somehow become a 12th level sorcerer, despite being trapped in a library reading and sorting books. She's now nearly as powerful as Xanderghul himself. Absurd. If Xanderghul isn't in the room (10% chance), she gives out plot information if the PCs answer extremely basic questions for her. Ham-handed. Eventually, the PCs likely kill Xanderghul and learn that their next step is to travel to Belimarius' City Outside of Time to learn how Alaznist is changing the past using the Scepter of Ages.

NPC Gallery:

Ninuron the time dragon
Xanderghul, for whom a dismissive lack of detail is provided. He gets 2 paragraphs, 1/3 of that provided for Ninuron, Zurea, and even Sorshen's Blood Simulacrum in Runeplague
Zurea, high priest of the Peacock Spirt

Ecology of the Azura article: Frankly, a ridiculous choice given that so little information is provided about the practices of the Cult of the Peacock Spirit, which was begging for an article to be written about it.

Rituals of the Runelords: fine

Bestiary: Hishandura Asura, Japalisura Asura, Basavan, Bolla, Time Dimensional

Temple of the Peacock Spirit was an extremely disappointing adventure and a huge step down from the prior two in the AP. This is my least favorite of the first four adventures in Return of the Runelords. Setting locations lack all but superficial - almost cheesy - flavor, enemies feel out of place and aren't given proper characterization and motivation, and Xanderghul is (unforgivably) presented as a caricature, nearly completely incompetent. Not sure how he remained in power for thousands of years if he's such an imbecile (with an INT of 28).

Finally, the ever-present Paizo gender issues are present here with all personal pronouns defaulting to female and all leaders being female, including all priests presented for the Peacock Spirit cult, lessening verisimilitude and making Golarion feel not like a living, breathing place, but like a dim reflection of a modern day leftist political utopia (-1 star).


Humbling Pride

5/5

In my opinion, this is the best adventure written for this particular adventure path up to this point. When I was beginning to write this, I was trying to think back to the beginning of the book, as I had to read this over a long holiday, and I couldn’t remember what was presented; which is never good, having something be forgettable. All it took was a few flips back through, and a few images, and I remembered how strong, and engaging the opening section was for this adventure. Now, like in the last adventure, it was a place players had been too before, but it brought with it something new, and very different than what we had seen before, making the encounters far more interesting. When players finally move on to the new locations, each is presented in a way that feels organic; the Npcs have goals beyond xp for the heroes, and many of them can be approached, and dealt with without the need for combat. Sure, you’re typical group of adventures will try to roll through everything, but as with the previous adventures, the challenge is also present here, and, if this is even possible, more difficult than before. Not only in the combat, but in traps, hidden treasures, caster checks, and knowledges. What I find even more impressive is that, with little work on the GM’s part, this could easily be run as a stand-alone adventure; if you wanted. My only real complaint is that there is little to no mention of how the NPCs react to the players if certain events had happened (such as a PC carrying the sword of Pride, or one of them looking exactly like Sorshen.) These are very minor things, but still are somewhat noticeable. Overall, excellent adventure, and I cannot wait to see where we go from here.


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1 person marked this as a favorite.

Good luck thwarting Xanderghul's return, gentlecritters. Mwahhahahah!!

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Oooo I wonder what this is on the cover, some type of Rakshasa or Oni?

Dark Archive

2 people marked this as a favorite.
Rysky wrote:
Oooo I wonder what this is on the cover, some type of Rakshasa or Oni?

It is Nikaramsa Asura from Book of the Damned hardcover bestiary


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

So looks like with this and moduel 2 this is going to be a mega dungeon filled ap

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
CorvusMask wrote:
Rysky wrote:
Oooo I wonder what this is on the cover, some type of Rakshasa or Oni?
It is Nikaramsa Asura from Book of the Damned hardcover bestiary

Cool, thankies.

Shadow Lodge

Yay, we might finally get to find out something about the Peacock Spirit. Because of all the tentative teasing over the years, I'm still unsure.


I think the whole point is NO ONE is sure, not even its worshippers.

Also I'm pretty sure it's not Xanderghul; It might be Zutha. But I could be wrong!


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Peacock spirit would be Xanderghul I think.

So, seems we might be preventing individual runelords from rising in this AP. I wonder with whom we'll fail. My guess is Sorshen.


Finally, an answer on who/what the Peacock Spirit actually is.


Mag,

That may be but I thought it was Zutha, that was closer...

Sorshen MIGHT be rising but I don't see why she'd want her other Runelord 'associates' to awaken too.

Dragon,

It's probably Jason Maoma in disguise... or else John Noble.

Shadow Lodge

Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

Xanderghul, runelord of pride, worshipped the peacock spirit. Fitting for a prideful man i think.


2 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber
magnuskn wrote:

Peacock spirit would be Xanderghul I think.

So, seems we might be preventing individual runelords from rising in this AP. I wonder with whom we'll fail. My guess is Sorshen.

Given that Xanderghul is the master of illusion and deception, I wouldn’t be surprised if the party only *thinks* they’ve stopped him, and he re-emerges in book 6...


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Porridge wrote:
magnuskn wrote:

Peacock spirit would be Xanderghul I think.

So, seems we might be preventing individual runelords from rising in this AP. I wonder with whom we'll fail. My guess is Sorshen.

Given that Xanderghul is the master of illusion and deception, I wouldn’t be surprised if the party only *thinks* they’ve stopped him, and he re-emerges in book 6...

Yeah, that would be a nice touch. I'm sure he has chemistry level ten. :p


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber
Thomas Seitz wrote:

Mag,

That may be but I thought it was Zutha, that was closer...

Sorshen MIGHT be rising but I don't see why she'd want her other Runelord 'associates' to awaken too.

Dragon,

It's probably Jason Maoma in disguise... or else John Noble.

If Sorshen was rising, she could dominate all the others. Especially with the vampires of Curse of the Crimson Throne :)

Dark Archive

From the description texts of the AP volumes it sounds like Alaznist will definetly rise and be the boss encounter in book 6.
The other Runelords "rising" may be prevented or not.


"An examination of the asuras" article? Alaznist had Yamasoth and the qlippoths in her dungeons, Karzoug was allied with the Denizens of Leng and Sorshen had a fondness for demons, now we finally get to know about Xanderghul's best pals, apparently.


Are Basavans a new type of fey or maybe of outsiders?


1 person marked this as a favorite.

I thought they were plants myself, Gold.

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

New asuras and asura information, most excellent!


The time dimensional sounds interesting.


Thomas Seitz wrote:
I thought they were plants myself, Gold.

That would be just as interesting. Hope they are a group of creatures. If not, hope they are at least intelligent... ^-^'


The Bolla is from Albanian mythology. In the myth it's the juvenile form of the much more powerful Kulshedra. Wikipedia actually has a fair amount of info about it: Bolla

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Wannabe Demon Lord wrote:
The Bolla is from Albanian mythology. In the myth it's the juvenile form of the much more powerful Kulshedra. Wikipedia actually has a fair amount of info about it: Bolla

Fixed link :3


Is the link not working for you?

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Wannabe Demon Lord wrote:
Is the link not working for you?

Click your's and it redirects to this page because there's a second [url= at the beginning.


This should fix it: Bolla

Silver Crusade

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Ah, ye. Sorry for being confusing, I fixed the link in the quote in my original post, which is why I posted "Fixed link".


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Oh, okay. No problem.

Dark Archive

5 people marked this as a favorite.

So I got this book and from skimming it seems awesome :D Bestiary section and bonus articles specifically.

So the part I find the funniest is:
You can actually spare Xanderghul increasing amount of possibly surviving runelords to 3. If you deactivate Peacock Shrine and stop him resurrecting, he does actually start begging for his life when he is about to die :D There is something awesome about making the Runelord of Pride swallow his Pride


Does anyone have the name, type, subtypes and CR of the new monsters?

Dark Archive

HTD wrote:
Does anyone have the name, type, subtypes and CR of the new monsters?

All of the monsters(pretty much all of their types are obvious, besides basavan I guess, its monstrous humanoid) are mentioned in shop blurb, CRs are 15, 12 15 14 14

That is part of why I find bestiary awesome, lots of high level content


Well, then what are the names of the two new asuras?

Dark Archive

Oh, hishandura and japalisura

Sovereign Court

Will we be getting the 1 file per chapter pdf download soon?


Pathfinder Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Aye! 1 file per chapter is missing.


Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Does Xanderghul's polearm have it's stats shown here?

Dark Archive

Well:
Unlike Zutha, despite Xanderghul also having Shadow Gear, his equipment is actually listed. Which makes me sad Zutha's gear wasn't listed. That said, his polearm's stats besides it being +3 axiomatic spell storing lucerne hammer isn't in the book, which is sad since cover mentions it being made out of unknown star metal that makes it so it never causes glancing blows(which sounds like to me as if it did always max damage)

In general I get feeling that main reason Zutha's and Xanderghul's unique magic items aren't statted is because players can't loot them anyway <_<


Would anyone be willing to give descriptions of all the monsters, with abilities, physical appearances, etc?


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Does anyone know if they plan on listing stats for Sorshen, Zutha, and Xanderghul at their full power? Maybe in the continuing the campaign section in the last adventure path.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

5 people marked this as a favorite.
samuraixsithlord wrote:
Does anyone know if they plan on listing stats for Sorshen, Zutha, and Xanderghul at their full power? Maybe in the continuing the campaign section in the last adventure path.

Answers:

Spoiler:
Sorshen yes. Xanderghul and Zutha, no. I do have stats for Xanderghul at full power; I needed them to build the simulacrum, but there wasn't room in print to present them and since he never showed up at that power on-screen, no point in presenting them. BUT between the stats for Karzoug (from Rise of the Runelords), Krune (Waking Rune), Belimarius and Alaznist and Sorshen (parts 5 and 6 of Return of the Runelords) an enterprising GM should be able to build up stats for the other two we "skipped".

Dark Archive

2 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Beasties:

Hishandura (asura): has mirrored faces, and four arms with daggers. Has a thing with using 'punishment', can sense the wounded.

Japalisura (asura): also with a lot of arms, humanoid with lengthy tusks. Can use said arms to wield bows to great (and supernatural) effect.

Basavan: sasquatch-like giant that has abilities that deal with the wilds.

Bolla: a (very awesome looking) serpent with vestigal limbs. Bite carries a curse.

Time Dimensional: sort of a crystaline humanoid. Quite a bit of immunities and resistances and has, well, time abilities.

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Also, the opener for the asura article is simply wonderful ...

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
DeciusNero wrote:
Also, the opener for the asura article is simply wonderful ...

Yus.


Decius,

Any chance for a CR and type/subtype for the ones that aren't Asura?

Dark Archive

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Thomas Seitz wrote:

Decius,

Any chance for a CR and type/subtype for the ones that aren't Asura?

CR:

Time Dimensional: CR 14 outsider (no subtype).
Bolla: CR 14 monstrous humanoid.
Basavan: CR 14 magical beast.

And just in case..

Asura:

Hishandura: CR 15
Japalisura: CR 12


I should have also asked for alignments for the non-asura....But thanks Decius!

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Thomas Seitz wrote:
I should have also asked for alignments for the non-asura....But thanks Decius!

You're welcome! :D

Spoiler:
Time dimensional N
Bolla NE
Basavan NG

Paizo Employee Organized Play Lead Developer

1 person marked this as a favorite.
DeciusNero wrote:
Also, the opener for the asura article is simply wonderful ...

I'm glad that you enjoyed it. This article was a tough one to research, but I'm pleased with how it turned out. I'd be interested in hearing your and others' impressions of and questions about the article.


5 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
James Jacobs wrote:
samuraixsithlord wrote:
Does anyone know if they plan on listing stats for Sorshen, Zutha, and Xanderghul at their full power? Maybe in the continuing the campaign section in the last adventure path.

Answers:

** spoiler omitted **

Wouldn't his full stat block not make for a nice blog post, if you already have it lying around? :)

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